Active Parents Raise Active Children: How to be an Active Family

September 6th, 2016 by Live Well Omaha Kids

During Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, Live Well Omaha Kids is spotlighting various organizations and programs which promote physical activity and healthy eating to youth. Today, Kailey Snyder, UNO Doctoral Student in Exercise Science and Dr. Danae Dinkel, UNO Assistant Professor in Health, Physical Education, and Recreation share with us how to be an active family.

* * *

Going back to school is a busy time for the whole family but it is also a great opportunity to get healthy active habits in place. Moving more isn’t just great for your energy level but it gives you a chance to connect and spend time with your family. Consider these tips/ideas to get your family moving together.

  1. Try Active Transport.  Think about your neighborhood and the businesses that surround it. What is within walking/biking distance? Are there any errands that you could turn into a walk or a bike ride? Try to do a walking or biking errand at least once a week and bring your family along. Whether it’s a quick trip to the post office or picking up a prescription at the pharmacy, this can be an easy way to get some steps, spend time together, and teach your children how to safely walk/bike through Omaha. Omaha also maintains a series of marked streets, bike lanes, and several multi-use trails known as the Bike Omaha system that can make your walk/bike ride that much faster and safer. Check out the Bike Omaha map here.What if you don’t live close enough to anything to walk/bike? Consider trying the Omaha bus system by walking to the nearest bus stop and hopping on to get within a few blocks of your destination then walking the rest of the way. The bus system is more user-friendly than ever before due to its newly revised online schedule. Not sure how to navigate the bus system? Check out Google Maps Transit to find the quickest bus route between your destinations.
  2. photo-1460788150444-d9dc07fa9dbaUtilize Your Local Parks. Research shows it is important for children to spend time playing outside. It can improve their mood, health, and ability to concentrate.  Did you know Omaha parks were ranked 12th in the nation for best park systems by the Trust for Public Land? Try using the Omaha Park & Recreation Finder by clicking here to locate a park near you. It might even be close enough to walk/bike to! Need ideas for ways to play with your kids outdoors? PBS Parents has developed a great list of ideas for ways to enjoy the outdoors as a family.
  3. Let Your Kids Be the Experts. Your kids learn ways to be physically active all day at school. Ask them to share what they learn with you and do the activities as a family. Whether it is a new game they played in PE or a classroom physical activity break they learned from their teacher. In Omaha, 90% of the teachers that incorporate classroom physical activity use GoNoodle – an online resource with hundreds of custom-created videos to get children running, jumping, dancing, and much more. The great news is GoNoodle can also be used at home. Sign up for a parent account at
  4. Track Your Fitness. Fitness monitors are a great tool for tracking your movement and motivating your family to stay active. Consider investing in some low-cost pedometers ($4-$20) or activity trackers designed for kids. These can be found in multiple locations including Amazon, BestBuy, Target, and Wal-Mart. Set weekly goals for your family and see who can get the most steps. Consider offering rewards for reaching your family step goals like going to a park or having an active outing like miniature golf or bowling.
  5. It’s the Little Things. Research confirms active parents raise active children. So try your best to lead by example whenever possible. Encourage your family to always take the stairs instead of the elevator. Try parking a little farther away at stores and restaurants. If you like to workout at home let your kids try and join in when possible. Think of active childhood games you liked to play when you were young. A classic game of tag is not only fun for the family but a great workout for you too. The most important thing is to make movement look fun and never let your child hear you speak negatively about physical activity. Try to avoid complaining or making excuses to avoid being active. These words can have lasting effects and can influence your child’s decision to be active as they get older.
  6. Limit Screen Time. Too much screen time isn’t good for your brain or your body. Set limits on how much TV/computer time you use as a family. When that limit has been reached consider finding ways to be active together such as taking the dog for a walk or playing catch in the backyard. If you do choose to watch TV together use the commercials as active opportunities. Try to use the commercials as a time for a fitness game. Consider letting your children pick an exercise for the family to do each commercial (i.e., jumping jacks, push-ups, running in place) or have a list of ideas already created. SparkPeople has created a great online resource for exercising during commercials. Check it out here!

There are lots of ways for you and your family to be active, with the weather changing and school back in session now is a great time to make some positive changes. Healthy choices create healthy habits so start small by finding just one or two ways to get a little bit more active each day. You will be amazed how quickly these changes can become lifelong habits and how they can be opportunities your family looks forward to.

No Comments »

Leave a Reply

More Posts: