It’s important to be in the best shape possible as you deal with the challenges of military life—separations and homecomings, single parenting, busy schedules. Keeping your body active helps you think more clearly, manage your emotions, and improve overall health. You’ll even sleep better and feel more relaxed. And, best of all, it feels terrific. Everybody—and every body—likes to move!
Make moving and exercise regular family routines. Try a few of these fun, easy, family-centered get-moving activities each day. Movement can be adapted for physical impairments or different levels of ability. Be active in whatever way works for you and your family:
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- Your family has the moves! Your kids want to be strong and active like you. Together, create a short family routine (perhaps to a favorite song), that you can do early in the day. Ask your kids afterward, “Do you feel more energetic than before you exercised?”
- Take regular walks. Even a ten-minute walk will recharge you. This is also an opportunity for returning parents to reconnect with their kids or adjust to a new neighborhood.
- Play and pretend. Challenge your children to jump like kangaroos, flutter like butterflies, and pounce like kittens. Or play a game of “I Spy” as you go along: Who can find the first acorn on the ground? The first red car? The first spider web?
- Move and do. Daily life is full of errands! When you drive somewhere, don’t choose the nearest parking space. Park in a spot that will encourage some walking; someone who needs to be closer will appreciate this as a kind act.
- Dance break! You can move anywhere. If you’re watching TV and a commercial comes on, mute the sound, turn on some music (or sing!), and DANCE it out! Invite your kids to place their hand over their heart and feel the heart muscle working: flub dub, flub dub. That’s how they know their bodies are getting stronger.
- Perform a balancing act. Balancing builds coordination and strength and helps focus thoughts. Put down a line of masking tape (or outside, draw a line with chalk) to make a “tightrope.” Challenge family members to walk and stand on the line. How long can you balance on one foot?
- Do a home stretch. Studies show that stretching before bedtime may help you relax and give you a better night’s sleep. Do some family stretching before bed and even in bed—touching toes, reaching for the sky, circling heads and shoulders. End with some slow, deep belly breathing: in through the nose, out through the mouth. Ask: Does everyone feel relaxed and calm?
- Find a community center. Take advantage of many activities on base like bowling alleys, skating rinks, playgrounds, peewee sports leagues, or school gyms. It can be a family activity.