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Keeping fit during the holidays


Cathy Agostino, RN, is a nurse at Cardon Children's Medical Center in Mesa, Ariz. 

Question: With the holidays coming up, how can I make sure my kids stay active even though our routine is thrown off?

Answer: The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that, “physical activity should become as routine a part of children’s lives as eating and sleeping.”

This in mind, it is important that families support and encourage healthy activity as part of everyday life, and also as part of family traditions.

If your traditions around the holidays focus on eating cookies, candies, and large carbohydrate-heavy meals, consider whether you may be able to make more healthful choices this year. One choice may be creating a new active family tradition.

  • Why not plan a family touch football or kickball challenge? Maybe even provide a trophy or prize recognizing the winning team each year. Or perhaps the winning team doesn’t have to do the post meal dishes?
  • Family participation in an organized event like a Turkey Trot 5K before the main meal is great way to start the day healthy. Members are more likely to make healthy food choices later in the day after they get their hearts pumping!
  • Try an inspirational hike in our beautiful parks. Ask family members to take time to share what they are thankful for this year.
  • Or what about a simple walk after a holiday dinner? Greet your neighbors or carol in your neighborhood (with adults involved for safety)?
  • Holiday family fitness events can showcase everyone’s talents, at all ages. Use things you have around the house to develop an exercise “course” in your backyard. Jump ropes, hoola hoops, hopscotch chalk and some cones or even milk jugs make for great fun and fitness. Who can get through the course the fastest?

Want the new tradition to be fun and lasting? Be sure that your kids see you participating, and enjoying your new family activity. Make competition fun, and not so serious that some don’t feel invited, successful or part of the team. Also, be sure your kids are involved in the planning. Can they design team shirts, or flags for the football challenge? Come up with team names? Maybe they have ideas where you should walk or hike.

Reviewed November 2010

Page Last Modified: 04/25/2011
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