Get the bikes out of the garage, dust off the old roller blades, pump up the soccer ball, or prepare for an epic game of tag because September 28th is National Family Health & Fitness Day. Celebrated annually on the last Saturday in September, this day was established by the Health and Information Resource Center in 1996 to encourage families to engage in physical activity. No matter the skillset or level of fitness, all families should participate. There’s no reason for anybody to be observing from the sidelines!
The U.S. Surgeon General’s Report on Physical Activity found that Americans, specifically those between the ages of 12-21, are not as active as they should be. Jennifer Hopper, M.S., ACSM-HFC-CET, director of Employee Wellness, Worklife and Fitness at Piedmont, stresses that lack of physical activity in children and teens increases their risk of developing type 2 diabetes. To decrease the risk of diabetes, children only require 15 minutes of daily physical activity, while adults require 30 minutes or more.
While it is possible to enroll children in after school activities, studies show that they are more likely to want to play outdoors when the entire family participates. Most family fitness activities are free and fun for all ages, and we have a few recommendations to get the whole family involved. They can be done in the backyard or out in nature. Let us know which one you want to do in the comments.
Rake Some Leaves Together
The leaves are changing with the fall season and they are falling off branches and into yards at a rapid rate. Don’t dread the rake session or hire a gardener; rather, make it a family event to clean up the yard. You can even build piles of leaves and have your children run through the piles before you scoop them into the trash.
The long, warm days of summer are fading into the distance, but early fall provides the perfect weather for hiking. Perhaps there is a nearby state park, waterfall, or canyon that you want to explore. Don your hiking shoes and head to the trail. Make a game for your children by tasking them with finding the best hiking sticks for all members of the family.
Take Part In Fall Festivities
Fall typically offers a variety of festive events in many communities. Take the family to an apple orchard and have a fun day of picking apples straight from the trees. Alternatively, head to a pumpkin patch and walk around to choose the best pumpkin, which you will inevitably carve as Halloween approaches. Some of those pumpkin patches even have corn mazes set up, so head in and explore.
Go For A Bike Ride
Biking is one of the most underrated forms of physical activity, but it is light on the joints and a great cardiovascular exercise. Explore your neighborhood on a bicycle, head to a local park with a parking lot, or outdoor basketball court and set up cones to create a bike course.
Move For A Cause
One of the best ways to exercise while simultaneously doing a good deed is to participate in a 5K charity run. There are races suited for all levels of fitness and some are themed, making them extra exciting for the kids.