Getting Active as a Family this Spring

By Andrea Reser, PT, DPT, CCCE

Winter has finally passed, and spring has arrived in Iowa. It’s a time for kids to pull out the new bikes they received as Christmas presents and for adults to dust off those health and fitness goals made at the beginning of 2019. The good news about fitness is it’s never too late to start. Take advantage of the warmer weather as a family and encourage your kids to get out and get moving, too!

A recent study supported by the American Physical Therapy Association found that even light amounts of physical activity – including walking, gardening and stretching – can have significant impacts on reducing the risk for cardiovascular disease. Recent revisions to national physical activity guidelines now place new emphasis on the idea that even some physical activity is better than none.

A study supported by the American Physical Therapy Association found light amounts of physical activity can have significant impacts on reducing the risk for cardiovascular disease. Photo credit: Joseph L. Murphy/Iowa Soybean Association

A study supported by the American Physical Therapy Association found light amounts of physical activity can have significant impacts on reducing the risk for cardiovascular disease. Photo credit: Joseph L. Murphy/Iowa Soybean Association

Given the spring-like temperatures, what are some ways families can get out and get some exercise?

  • Go for a family walk. Taking an evening family walk can have huge physical benefits – as well as emotional benefits – by spending quality time together. Take advantage of neighborhood trails to go exploring. Hitting the trails may also be good training for longer walking or running events typically held in the spring. Keep an eye on local news publications for weekend 5K walks/runs supporting great causes from everything to fundraising for local charities to raising awareness for various medical conditions.

  • Grab the gardening gear and get your hands dirty. Work together as a family to prepare, plant and tend a garden. The fresh air, light exercise and reward of raising your own fruits and vegetables offers valuable physical and emotional benefits. Gardening is also a hands-on way to learn about the hard work and dedication it takes farmers to raise crops like corn and soybeans.  

  • Take a family bike ride to check out longer distances. Be sure to follow proper safety measures, including wearing helmets and keeping bikes well lit. Biking is a great low-impact form of aerobic exercise enjoyed by kids and adults alike that provides cardiovascular benefits without joint strain.

  • Participate in your child’s favorite sport or hobby with them. Get out the baseball gloves and throw a ball around or shoot hoops. Even just 10 minutes of light physical activity on a consistent basis can have positive impacts on our overall health and well-being.  

Involving kids and creating family-oriented activities is a great way to turn fitness goals into a lifestyle. If you want to get moving this spring but have questions about where to start, or if your child is starting a new spring sport, and you want to make sure they are in the right shape to reduce the risk for injury, consider talking with a physical therapist. Physical therapists are movement experts and can help design a personalized exercise program to address strength, flexibility and overall conditioning.

Remember, some physical activity is better than none. Making fitness a family priority can offer physical, emotional and mental health benefits for everyone with impactful, long-term benefits.

Andrea Reser is a physical therapist, clinic coordinator for clinical education and clinic supervisor at MercyOne Clive Physical Therapy in Clive, Iowa.