Cragmama "Not all who wander are lost…" JRR Tolkien

5 Reasons for Families to Get Active – and some scary statistics!

It seems as though I’ve been on a family kick recently with my Green Hour posts, both immediate and extended family.  Ironically, however, I have also had a lot of conversations recently with parents of children who would rather stay inside and watch other people play sports than actually get outdoors and do something active themselves.  In addition to being just plain sad, I also found this both disturbing and odd, especially considering how many nature resources and sports programs are available for kids of all ages these days.  It prompted me to research a little further…

It seems like everyone in our culture in this day and age is always busy, whether its working, making appointments, running errands, paying bills, cooking dinner.  A lot of people don’t have time (or don’t MAKE time, rather) to get outside and get active, so it’s no wonder our health statistics as a nation are dismal at best.  Though we as Americans are free from the majority of infectious diseases and illnesses that run rampant in poorer, less-developed countries, we are anything but the picture of health.  Did you know that 2 out of 3 Americans are overweight or obese?  Three out of four Americans don’t even meet basic recommendations of activity level, and 1 out of 4 adults lives a completely sedentary lifestyle.  And this epidemic is not just affecting adults – obesity rates in children has more than quadrupled in the past 30 years!

My little treehugger...

If everyone in this country took even baby steps towards an active and healthy lifestyle, the world would quite literally be a different place.  But rather than teaching our children to have fun running around outside, we’re teaching them to sit on the couch and play video games.  Not that I’m against video games – to call myself a master at Super Mario Bros would be too humble…and in more recent times I’ve been known to kick my fair share of Rock Band booty as well.  Everything in moderation, right?  So how do we find that balance – because let’s face it, life does get in the way, especially during the busy seasons.

The short answer?  To steal from Nike – JUST DO IT!  Ok read this first, but then GET OFF THE COUCH!!!  Go outside.  Do something (anything!) active as a family.  Whether its a bike ride, a walk around the neighborhood, or playing hide and seek in the backyard, spend some quality “action” time together.  And if the scary statistics above weren’t motivation enough, here’s more reasons why you should…

1.  QUALITY TIME – Working out as a family is a great way to catch up on the day’s activities.  Our family likes to take a spin around the neighborhood with the jogging stroller on days we aren’t at the climbing gym – it not only gives us an opportunity to recap to each other about our day, but also makes the run go by faster since we’re talking through it.

2.  TIME SAVER – If we all go together on a jog or a bike ride, it takes about 45 minutes to an hour.  That’s a lot less time than it would take for us to take turns watching C while the other parent drove to the gym and rushed through a workout.  Not only will working out together prove to be a timesaver, but it will also free up more time in the evening for family time.

3.  GOOD ROLE MODELS – Kids by nature are active and into everything.  But older children can be tempted to get lazy and stay inside just like adults, especially if they see mom and dad laying around on the couch.  How can you expect your child to adopt a healthy, active lifestyle – practice what you preach, and let them SEE you doing it!

4.  IT’S GOOD FOR YOU – The benefits of consistent, regular physical activity are certainly no secret.  Active people are healthier and happier than their couch-potato counterparts.

5.  IT’S GOOD FOR EVERYONE – Exercise is not just good for adults.  According to the CDC, children over the age of 6 should participate in at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day.

Regardless of how you squeeze it into your routine, you are doing your family a big favor when you make time to enjoy the outdoors together, by setting your child up for a lifetime of healthy living and appreciation of the natural world.  What are some ways that you teach your kids the value of getting off the couch?


9 Responses to “5 Reasons for Families to Get Active – and some scary statistics!”

  1. Awesome post – thank you for sharing this! SOOOO scary too! Have a post on my blog today about the importance of being active and getting outside via a guest blogger – thought I would share! (and funny that the posts seem to correspond today!)


  2. I couldn’t agree more. It is staggering the poor health and activity level that we as a nation have fallen into. No longer, it appears, is there a desire for not only the outdoors but for quality family time being active together.

    I teach a class on physical health and wellness at my church twice a year and people are floored by how little nutritional value they actually get and how unhealthy a lot of foods we eat are, and they thought they were doing well. I also see the looks on their faces when I mention the level and intensity of activity they should undertake multiple times a week.

    How simple it is for us to incorporate physical activity in our daily lives, and how easy it is for us to be lazy. Just think of how long we wait for the prime parking spot close to the door and what that costs us in time, fuel, and health among other things. Great post.


    • Amelia – Ironic how our related posts coincided…maybe its speaking a message to someone out there reading! Thanks for sharing!

      Jayson – Thanks for the comment. I agree that most people have no idea just how poor their eating habits/activity level is compared to what it should be. It boils down to the fact that we can always find someone that’s lazier, eats worse, etc, so most people would rather compare themselves to that person than the standard. Good point about the parking spots!

  3. Trent Seed

    Great post. Yes, the stats are scary, but I’ve found that stats like that have lost (or are quickly losing) their ability to motivate people to sustained action. As a population, we’ve gotten de-sensitized to them. Besides (people reason), “I can’t possibly change those statistics just through my own actions.”

    In general, I think people need some kind of a Dave-Ramsey-Total-Money-Makeover type thing — only converted to an exercise plan. People get motivated and exercise a couple times, then life happens — they get busy, or they don’t see results, or whatever — and they stop. And in my humble and un-scientific opinion, those fits and starts could actually be WORSE than no activity at all because with every failure they experience they may be less likely to ever try again.

    I’m no Dave Ramsey disciple, but there’s no arguing the success he’s had helping people get — and stay — motivated to become financially independent.

    Seems to me there’s a huge market avaialble to the person who comes up with that program for fitness/exercise.


  4. For a lot of active families the issue is including your children in your activities and not just leaving them at home. Once they are too old for the backpack, bike trailer etc…it takes more “work” to get out with them but it’s worth it. My son is 6 and is really into mountain biking (maybe because we followed your 1-5 bullets above) and I LOVE biking with him. Sure we may go a little slower but it’s the highlight of my day getting out with him, seeing his joy and watching him learn.


    • Trent – I agree completely with you – I think it boils down to the fact that most people don’t WANT a lifestyle change, they want to lose weight/look better/lower blood pressure/etc…without having to completely step out of their comfort zone.

      Jen – That is a good point. I love that your 6 year old is so into mountain biking. It really makes me look forward to the day when I get to tie in to the same rope as Cragbaby 🙂

  5. Great post! It’s unfortunate that there is such laziness in our country. Everything is so easy these days with technology and transportation. You don’t have to work very hard at most things anymore so why should being healthy be any different. At least, that’s the assumption I get from most people. Sad facts stated above for our country but posts like this are what is needed to make changes.

    Thanks for writing it!


  6. Every time I see the statistics (which is frequently) I am still stunned and perplexed at how to move the dial in the opposite direction.

    To Jayson’s point – integrating activity into every day life isn’t that difficult yet most people won’t do it. I was just thinking the other day how bizarre it is that people wait for that prime parking spot instead of parking 25 feet away when going to, of all places, the gym.

    What I have been trying to figure out is how does the message reach and resonate with people who aren’t aware and don’t understand the realities and implications of a sedentary lifestyle? While there are plenty of news stories and articles about obesity, etc. if it isn’t a topic of interest to begin with why would someone stop to pay attention? Hopefully as more families get moving their action will get others to move along with them.


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“Not all who wander are lost.” —JRR TOLKIEN