Thanksgiving is a time to reflect and give thanks while enjoying friends, family, and a good meal. But after the table is cleaned and the dishes are done, it is time for families across Maine to get moving!
Research shows active parents raise active children. Fitness should always be a priority in a family’s daily schedule, even during the holidays. Make it fun and make memories at the same time!
The American Heart Association recommends that healthy children stay active throughout the day. School-age kids and teens ages 6-17 should try to get at least 60 minutes per day of moderate- to vigorous-intensity activity. It can be broken up into shorter sessions throughout the day. This will help them maintain a healthy weight and keep their hearts, brains, and bodies healthy.
While an hour each day might sound like a large chunk of time, there are many ways to incorporate activity into your family’s routine to make it fun. Here are 10 ways that your family can be more active following your Thanksgiving festivities:
- Just dance. Clear some space, put on some music, and take a dance break! It can re-energize you and be lots of fun! Let each person take a turn as DJ so everyone’s favorite music gets played.
- Put the screens on hold. Instead of heading to the TV or game console after dinner, make that family activity time. Take a walk, practice a sport, or play a game of hide-and-seek.
- Tune into fitness during TV time. Walk or jog in place or on a treadmill, lift weights, or do yoga while you watch those Thanksgiving football games. Challenge each other to see who can do the most burpees, push-ups or jumping jacks during commercial breaks.
- Be mindful. Prep for the start of the holiday pace by trying mindful movement like yoga, tai chi or qi gong. These gentle mind-body practices may leave you less stressed.
- Play actively with pets. Throw a ball or stick for the dog to fetch. Lead the cat on a string chase around the house.
- Tackle a family game night. Include active games like Twister ®, charades or hide-and-seek to keep everyone moving while having fun.
- Be ready for action. Set up for success by putting out toys that encourage physical activity such as balls, skateboards, hula hoops and jump ropes.
- Opt outside. Explore your neighborhood or city if the weather is nice with a bike or walk to nearby destinations.
- Ready. Set. GO! If you have stairs use them for a bit of competition. Grab the stopwatch and see who can make it up and down the fastest but be extra careful not to take a tumble.
- Step it up. Park farther away from the entrance and walk the extra distance if you are going Black Friday shopping. Wear your walking shoes and sneak in an extra lap or two around the mall or store.
A good way to find activities ideas to do as a family is to start by asking your child what activities they participate in during school hours. Do they like to play hopscotch or do jumping jacks at recess? Is playing kickball their favorite part of P.E.? Find out what school activities your child enjoys and help bring that home.
If you are looking for more ways to be active, the American Heart Association offers school programs to bring expanded curriculum resources to classrooms; rooted in proven science which has shown that kids who are regularly active have a better chance of a healthy adulthood . The Kids Heart Challenge for elementary schools offers physical activations to get students’ hearts pumping such as jumping rope, practicing basketball skills, dancing, or completing an obstacle course. The American Heart Challenge is a complementary program tailored to middle and high school students.
Parents and schools in Maine who are interested in bringing the American Heart Association’s in-school programs to their children should visit Heart.org/KHC.