Step Up Your Family's Fitness for the Holidays
Five Easy Steps to Help Raise Your Family's Daily AQ — Activity Quotient — and Stay Physically Fit
during the holidays may seem like a daunting task. Add the pressure of
making sure the entire family is active, and many parents throw up
their hands in defeat.
fitness needn't be considered a "mission impossible," according to
certified fitness expert, Ruth Lahmayer, MS, RD. All it takes is a few
steps in the right direction.
percent of adults(1) and a quarter of young people (ages 12- 21)(2) not
meeting the Surgeon General's recommended minimum requirement of 30
minutes of daily activity, health and fitness concerns have now become
a family affair," said Lahmayer.
solution is to increase your family's AQ -- or Activity Quotient, a
measure of your family's physical activity. For instance, wearing a
pedometer and tracking the number of steps you take gives you a general
idea of how much activity you are getting each day. From that measure
you can then set goals for increasing activity -- such as taking more
walks, playing games outside, walking in place during commercials on TV
-- just about any activity can count towards your physical activity
goal. It's a fun and challenging way to keep the entire family active
one of the researchers who conducted a recent study at Gundersen
Lutheran Medical Center in La Crosse, Wis.,(3) on the health benefits
of wearing a pedometer. Female employees at a large health care
facility were encouraged to wear pedometers and to walk 10,000 steps
daily throughout an eight-week period.
showed that wearing a pedometer was a simple, non-invasive way for
these women to increase awareness of their daily activity and improve
their overall fitness level. In fact, a majority of those who
participated in the project reported that they would continue wearing
one after the study was complete.
showed that a simple activity like wearing a pedometer to count your
steps is an effective method of maintaining activity awareness and can
help you set and keep your activity goals," said Lamayer. "Since most
moms act as their family's 'activity coach,' I recommend that they
encourage their families to follow their lead and find ways to include
30-60 minutes of daily activity in their schedules whether it is
through a pedometer program or another activity that the family
recommends families consider participating in one of many walking
programs that have recently been started as a way to jump-start their
fitness regimen. Many communities offer walking and wellness programs
through the community hospital, at the local shopping mall and through
the local parks and recreation services.
programs also are available to all ages through schools, gyms and
health club memberships and on the Internet. The "Step With It!"
program, which was developed by The Coca-Cola Company in partnership
with the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE),
and the President's Challenge Physical Activity and Fitness Awards
Program, encourages middle school students to take 10,000 steps each
day and track them with their own stepometer.
also search online to find information about local walking programs,
and to download step logs and the latest information on pedometers. One
such site is www.stepchallenge.com
which offers tools such as the "Activity Quotient Quiz" — a fun
test to help users determine their starting fitness levels.
Lahmayer suggests these easy tips to make fitness a family affair:
- Establish a baseline:
Wear a pedometer to see how many steps you really take each day. From
that measure try setting a goal to increase your steps each day,
working up to 10,000 steps a day. Every 2,000 steps is the equivalent
of about a mile.
- Create a Family Fun Step Challenge:
Choose a destination for a family trip and calculate the number of
steps it would take to get there (average: 2,000 steps per mile). Post
the goal on the refrigerator and log each member of the family's daily
steps. Once the total goal is reached, reward yourself with a visit to
- Plan a Weekly Family Fitness Outing:
Regardless of the weather, hike local trails or just take your dog - or
the neighbor's - for a walk around the block. Don't let the snow keep
you from your goals. Many local park districts have snow shoe rentals
you can take advantage of.
- If You Can't Turn if Off, Turn It Up:
If you and your family are glued to all the holiday specials and reruns
of "White Christmas" on TV, get up and walk around the room during
commercial breaks. Remember, every step can make a difference in your
- Take 10, Times Three:
Find 10-minute segments three times each day to take a brief walk, play
touch football, march in place, or even dance. These quick spurts will
go a long way in helping you meet — and surpass — your
- Window Shop 'Til You Drop: Make the most of your holiday chores by adding in extra steps in everything you do.
- Park at the far end of the mall's lot.
- Do a couple of laps around the shopping mall, window shopping along the way.
forget to pick up "healthy" holiday gifts such as pedometers for
stocking stuffers, walking shoes, or even an upbeat CD to keep the
spring in your step.
Source: Step With It!