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6 Reasons to make fitness a family affair

Laura Williams, M.S.Ed. is a personal trainer, freelance writer and entrepreneur who works with a wide variety of fitness clients. She's the founder of the popular website, - Girls Gone Sporty, and she's the host of the High Impact Blogg...

Think fitness is all about you? Stop approaching fitness as an individual and tackle it as a family. Here are six reasons why it's worth the effort.

family doing stretching

We know you're already stretched thin when it comes to eking out time for fitness and family, so why not combine the two to make the most of both? Unlike other forms of multitasking, combining family time with your fitness routine is an excellent way to enhance your family dynamic while improving your total health.

You can create a family culture

Every family has its own culture. These cultures are created over time as habits and traditions are formed. By approaching fitness as a family — taking bike rides, running races and trying new sports together — you can develop a dialogue and a story about your family's fitness priorities while encouraging your children to take on the mantra of "We're a fit family!" to wear like a badge of honor.

It boosts everyone's mood

Just 10 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, such as walking to the park and running around with your kids, can boost your feel-good endorphins, helping you shake off the stress of a tough day. The great part is that this works for everyone, so your moody tween or your exhausted spouse will also reap the benefits, ultimately enhancing the mood of your entire household.

You create incredible memories

When I think back to my own childhood, the memories that come to mind are those of family camping trips, long hikes and playing Wiffle ball in the park. And when my siblings and I get together, we regale each other with tales of running up the Great Sand Dunes, jumping waves in the ocean and playing in the creek near the local ball fields. We had fights and disagreements just like any other family, but there's something about getting active together that forces you to put those other things aside and work together. The result is shared memories that last a lifetime.

You can all learn and grow together

When it comes to most of life's lessons, you have a wealth of knowledge to impart to your kids. But one lesson that's important for them to learn is that you're never too old to try something new. Choose a physical activity that no one in your family has tried, such as stand-up paddleboarding or snowboarding, and take a lesson together. You'll have the chance to learn as a group, laugh at mistakes and encourage one another. And chances are, your kids will pick up the skill faster than you will! By the end of the day, Junior will be shelling out tips and pointers on how to improve, and that will let him know that dear old Mom and Dad are always learning and that even he can be the teacher.

It provides an outlet for positive competition

Sibling rivalry is inescapable, but there are steps you can take to funnel your children's frustration into a positive outlet. When your teen daughters start fighting over bathroom time, or when your son brings home an A paper that seemingly overshadows your daughter's hard-earned B, exercising together can help diffuse the negative energy. Just be sure to choose activities wisely — opt for sports in which your family is competing together against another team (softball, basketball or sand volleyball are good choices) or activities in which your children have to work together to reach a goal (rock climbing, canoeing or partners yoga all work). With any luck, your kids will end up cheering each other on and encouraging better performance rather than going for the jugular.

You'll all be healthier for your efforts!

Last, but certainly not least, you can't overlook the positive health benefits that regular exercise imparts. Adult and childhood obesity are very real problems that contribute to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, arthritis and even some cancers. These diseases affect people of all ages, and regular exercise plays an important part in preventing obesity and obesity-related illness.

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