Sustaining a Family Fitness Program

by Angela Yorke | August 29th, 2011 | Family Fitness

It’s easy enough to plan a family fitness program, and to get everyone interested in it; however, the main challenge is to keep everyone interested. The saying goes that it takes 21 days to form a habit, so you can’t expect a group of couch potatoes to transform into devoted exercisers overnight.

It’s easier to form the good habit of exercising regularly together as a family if you set a goal. The goals you set should involve long and short-term aims for exercise. An example of a short-term milestone could be brisk walking for 30 minutes every day for a week, while a long-term goal could be completion of a 5K race. Each short-term goal should be relatively simple to reach, but the difficulty of each goal should be increased over time.

It also pays to commit to a time for exercising. This means defining a specific period each week to exercise together. Scheduling each exercise session allows you to approach it with the same commitment as you would an appointment, and means that you won’t skip it for a frivolous reason. A schedule also creates a routine, setting the pace for the rest of the day – whether you exercise in the morning or evening. You also give your family something to look forward to.

In the face of initial flagging enthusiasm, it’s always a good idea to provide positive motivation. It could be something as simple as praise for eating healthily or sticking to the exercise routine without fail, or a more substantial reward like a gift; however, this is akin to bribery, and should be avoided where possible.

It can be hard to be enthusiastic about exercising when your muscles are so sore that they threaten to seize up with every step you take. Fitness is achieved one workout at a time, and it is a rare routine that doesn’t encounter some obstacle or setback. The key to staying on track is to stay patient, keep your eye on the ultimate goal, and have the flexibility to work around any difficulty.

Fun is a big deal when it comes to getting the whole family to adopt the exercise habit. While it may be simple enough for one person to go for a quick run every day, a stroll through the park, or hike a nearby trail is more certain to keep a group interested. Similarly, a change of setting can make a difference when you want to overcome the unexciting routine of strength training at the gym.

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All health and fitness information is provided for educational purposes. Please consult with your physician before beginning any exercise regimen.