family on bikes

You know that you and your family members would benefit from getting more exercise, but you aren't sure when to find the time. Since each one of your family members may have numerous individual commitments, trying to get everyone on the same page can feel like herding cats.

How can you encourage your family to be fit without driving everyone crazy? By developing a plan and creating a schedule for how each family member can get more exercise--both individually and as a group. You and your family will be more likely to stick to your fitness goals if you work together to make health a priority.

To Each Their Own
The first step to building a "Get Fit" family schedule is to figure out the type of physical activity that each family member most enjoys. Since the ideal activity and venue may not be the same for everyone, it's important to identify who can do what--and when.

Start with a calendar, either on the wall or online. Use the American Heart Association's Guidelines for Physical Activity as your benchmark, and set a workout goal of "30 minutes a day, five days a week" for everyone in your family.

Your kids might benefit from joining an intramural sports team at school, or even enroll in lessons outside of school. Find out where and when these teams meet, and help your kids choose activities that they find fun. Add practices and games for these events on the family's Get Fit schedule.

Now it's your turn. Have parents and adults in the household choose exercise options that gel with the kids' schedule. If kids' afterschool practices are Tuesdays and Thursdays, perhaps you can time a running group or yoga class to coincide. If soccer matches are on Saturdays, can you do double duty by lapping the field for a walking workout? Log your fitness commitments into the family calendar.

Family Focus
It's tough to get the whole family on the same schedule, no matter what the occasion. But if you use your Get Fit schedule to keep the gang on track, you might have more luck corralling workout partners.

Weekends are the best bet for family fitness. Choose one day of the weekend to earmark some time for group activities. Make it fun and adventurous--Sunday afternoon could be a great time to teach the kids how to kayak, or find a new swimming hole together. Book family fitness time in your calendar, and make a habit of it.

HealthAhead Hint: Lead by Example
While it's always great to be active together, it's just as important that you make the effort to go to the gym or hit the trails on your own. If you make exercise a priority, it will be easier for your whole family to get in shape. Setting a good example of a healthy active lifestyle can encourage your children to do the same. Take the lead in getting in shape as a family. By creating a fitness plan and scheduling each member's activities individually and in unison, you'll soon be on the road to regular fitness.