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Easy ways to exercise as a family

Exercise is important every season of the year. When we walk, dance, stretch, swim or exercise in other ways, we feel better in our minds as well as our bodies.

This is true no matter how old you are. Toddlers need to move and so do seniors—and people of all ages in between.

If your children are between ages 6 to 17, they may need regular exercise most of all.

According to the American Heart Association, children in these growing years should get at least one hour of physical activity each day.

  • do well in school
  • be a healthy weight
  • have stronger hearts, bones and muscles
  • be confident
  • have higher self-esteem
  • have better memories and attention

These are just a few of the benefits. Another one is that exercise is fun!

However, on hot Texas days, you and your family might be tempted to stay inside andon the couch. Then, days can turn into weeks with no exercise.

The longer you sit, the harder it is to get up and move.

So how can you encourage your family to be more active?

The best way to “beat the heat” is to avoid it.

Set the alarm for 6 a.m. or earlier. Leave the house before sunrise and you will be out the door—and back home—before the hottest hours of the day.

If mornings are not your thing, you can also wait until sundown.

What can you do after dark? Bring your kids along for an evening walk.

This easy, no-cost activity is a great way to share conversations, look at the stars and unwind after a long day.A relaxing walk after sundown can also help to ease you, and your little ones, into a good night’s sleep.

Before video games were invented, children and teens spent much of their free time playing outdoors. You can borrow some ideas from those long-ago decades for your family today.

  • playing catch with a ball and mitt
  • throwing Frisbees across a field
  • shooting some hoops or playing a quick game of basketball
  • jumping rope to music
  • holding hulahoop competitions—how long can you keep the hoop moving?
  • riding bikes on a nearby trail
  • roller skating in an empty parking lot
  • visiting a local playground to swing, slide, climb and run
  • playing classic games like hide-and-seek, freeze tag and Red Rover

Have 15 minutes? Gather the family, turn on the tunes, and dance. Keep your heart rate up for three or four songs, then stretch for a few slower ones.

When shopping, park as far away as possible and “fast-walk” across the lot. Make it a game—race your kids to the door. Do this every time you’re out and you can add miles to your total steps each year.

Picking up a few small items at a nearby store? Walk or ride your bike instead of driving or taking a bus. Bring your kids along and make it a routine.

Your children are learning all summer, even when they aren’t in school.

When you make time every day to walk, run, bike, dance—or swing the hula hoop—you teach them that exercise is a normal and fun part of life.

It’s true in the heat of Texas summer. It’s true every season of the year.