Karl Henry: Shake up your routine with family exercises
Now that our schedules are back on track with the start of the school semester, it's easier than ever for parents to slot healthy eating and exercise routines in
The summer is well and truly forgotten at this stage, the traffic is back to normal and the children are back to school. Now that everyone has settled back into their routine, now is a great time to focus on your family's health and fitness.
We know that the fitter your children are as they go through the school cycle, in both primary and secondary school, the greater the chance that they will stay fit for life.
We also know that you and your family's approach to fitness and health is crucial to improving the health of your children.
The family unit has the most important role to play in the health of our nation's children. In reality, you have the opportunity to give your children skills they will have for the rest of their life.
If you instil bad habits, unhealthy eating and a lazy approach to life then it will be extremely hard to change those habits; we all know how we don't like change.
Now that your family is back into its routine, why not focus on your habits, attitudes, knowledge and overall approach to life? Use the next 10 to 12 weeks as a perfect time frame to address these, to improve whatever aspect of health your family needs to address.
Between now and Christmas, you have an ideal time frame to make these changes happen, set down the things you want to change, discuss it with your family and put a reward in place, if you achieve your targets you get the reward, what better way to stay on track and bond as a family. All in the name of health too!
So let's take a look at some simple ways you can improve your family's health:
1 Nominate a sport of choice once a week
No longer is Ireland a country of just rugby, soccer or GAA, as a country we have a huge selection of sports and activities. So why not take turns as a family to choose a sport or activity to try each week or every second week?
From surfing to hill-walking, cycling to absailing, there are lots to choose from.
Alternatively you can make a list of the activities that you all want to try, place these in a hat and take turns choosing one each week.
The real goal here is to find an activity that is fun; the more you enjoy something the greater the chance of keeping it up in the long term.
2 Share the cooking
One of the key tools in life is how to prepare and cook food, yet so many teenagers and students don't have these tools. Each week, why not choose one meal to prepare and cook as a family? Get your children involved in the shopping, preparing and cooking of the meal, teaching them what to look for in the supermarkets, how to cook them and everything else that goes with it. Make it fun, choosing a favourite recipe each week and of course, don't forget to share the washing up!
3 Have a car-free day
Pick a day of the week that you can do without your car and nominate that as a car-free day. Walk to the shops, to your neighbours or anywhere else you would normally drive. It will save you fuel and help to get more activity into the week too.
4 Take a cookery class
Cookery has never been more popular, I am sure that every county in Ireland will have cookery classes in it. Enquire locally and see what classes are in your area; you could ask for a class specifically for children and spread the news locally or in your school. For children and adults alike, cookery classes are great fun and a great learning environment.
5 Trade off for computer games or TV time
Children spend a lot of time in front of the TV and playing computer games. If this is something that's an issue in your home, I suggest creating an exercise-related system, where a certain amount of exercise time is required to allow for computer game time.
In the US, games machines are being built into treadmills to get children active - hopefully we won't get to that point.
6 Lead from the front
If you are trying to get your family healthy, you have to lead from the front yourself. It will make it easier to make the changes happen, you will be healthier and feel better as a result of it too.
These are just some ideas to help you get your family fitter; you hopefully have plenty of ideas yourself too. Now is the time to make those changes, it will be worth it in the long run, for you and your children.
Karl Henry talks fitness and fashion for a sporting life at the Irish Independent stand at midday today at the National Ploughing Championships