By Unni Greene, C.M.T., C.S.N.S.

It’s almost summer time. For many families, this means more time to spend together and enjoy longer days. Also, as temperatures climb, we wear less clothing than what we can get away with during winter. This helps many of us make an extra effort to maintain or even ramp up fitness routines and eating habits. For some, summer is less structured. Our kids or even the entire family can adopt lazy habits, slacking off on health and fitness. But with adult and childhood obesity rates skyrocketing, and Type 2 diabetes becoming our most serious health threat, we cannot afford to ignore the consequences of inactivity and poor diets. How can we take advantage of summer to get the family back in shape together?

  • Enjoy the freedom of fewer after-school activities. Make plans to enjoy a family fitness activity together in the early evenings when the heat is less intense and you can still enjoy daylight. Go for a walk, a bike ride or if you have access to a pool, take a swim. Pick fun activities to enjoy together. Keep them on the calendar and stick with them.
  • If children are old enough, create a “Family Fitness Challenge.” Record everyone’s weight and add some fitness measures, such as how many push ups each person can do, or how fast they can jog one mile. Keep a log of those activities and pick a date to re-measure and end date to celebrate the winner. Make sure that the “prize” is fun and motivating. A fitness challenge can be very inspiring and rewarding for the whole family.
  • Resolve to eat better. Visit one of the local farmer’s markets that are found all over South Florida. They alone can teach your children about the benefits of eating locally-grow, in season fresh fruits and vegetables and you‘ll also enjoy a family shopping outing. Use your purchases for a home cooked meal, prepared together.
  • Don’t give up. To keep children motivated, plan fun “rewards” for staying busy. Teenagers especially may be more interested in their social networking skills than their fitness prowess. Get them off the phone and couch by setting a great example and enlisting them to help choose their activities. You might even give video fitness games a try as a family. By the time fall rolls around, your fitness routine could be the beginning of a life-long habit.

Unni Green, a Certified Master Trainer and Nutritionist can be reached at Somi Fitness is located at 6855 SW 81 St., South Miami, FL 33143.

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