5 Ways to Unplug Your Family

We live in a world where technology rules. Laptops, iPhones, Netflix — all of these programs and gadgets are eating up a lot of time in our lives and our kids’ schedules. But how can we ensure that our families are getting enough movement and exercise?

Frank Nagle, personal trainer at ProMedica Wildwood Athletic Club, suggests that children participate in at least a half hour of activity every day. To reach this goal, Nagle encourages parents to monitor and restrict how much time their children interact with technology.

“My suggestion is to use the technology time as a reward,” Nagle says. “Set expectations up, and if your child meets those expectations, they can be rewarded with an hour of play with technology.”

It might not be a popular suggestion at first, but organizing family time each day is a great way to reduce your family’s “screen time.” Nagle offers five alternative activities to the typical evening of playing video games, checking Facebook, or binge watching “American Idol.”

1. Play outside: A great way to get your children active and to release energy is to get them outside. Take them into to the backyard or to a park where they have options to burn some calories and energy, Nagle suggests. The more family members participating in the outdoor fun, the better.

2. Encourage organized sports: Getting your children to play with groups of friends can easily be accomplished through organized sports. Nagle says to allow your children to choose the sports they would like to participate in. The rest of the family can show support by attending games or meets.

3. Look after pets: Pets are entertaining and often need additional attention from their human owners. Introducing a family pet into the home can be fun and educational. Your children will learn how to be responsible pet owners by walking, playing, and looking after the pet’s daily needs.

4. Read a book: Exercising your mind is important, too. You can make this a family activity by reading aloud to your children before bed. Or, if you enjoy biographies, but your son or daughter prefers science fiction, everyone can read his or her favorite books separately.

5. Organize a family game night: Bust out the Pictionary or Scrabble board and host a family game night to encourage creativity and discussion with your loved ones. If it’s nice outside, consider riding bikes, shooting hoops or going on a scavenger hunt.

“A parent leading by example is the best way for a child to learn healthy habits,” Nagle says. Don’t expect your children to suddenly be more active if you aren’t willing to participate in healthy activities with them.

How do you keep your family active? Please share your favorite active family pastime with us in a comment below.