The Active Family: Creating a Healthy Lifestyle for Your Children


Teaching your children to be healthy and active is creating a life-long habit that will benefit them in every area of their life.  The best way to teach this is by creating healthy habits together as a family.  In a study published in the American Journal of Health Promotion, researchers followed families for over two years and found that parent encouragement and support resulted in less sedentary behaviors in children.  Planning family activities that involve movement and exercise motivates your children to develop healthy lifestyle patterns.  The Rio Grande Valley offers plenty of options for families to be physically active together while staying within their budget.


Go Bird Watching

Take advantage of having one of the best bird watching experiences in the world right in your backyard.  People from all over the world travel to this area to catch a rare glimpse of birds like the Altamira Oriole, the Buff-Bellied Hummingbird, or the Green Jay.  Visit one of the nine parks across the Valley that make up The World Birding Center.  Make it an educational experience by encouraging your children to research the different types of birds they might spot.  All of these parks offer activities that allow your family to have fun and learn while being physically active.  The Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley Park in Mission offers walking trails and allows visitors to ride their own bikes across the park or rent one there.  All the parks offer plenty of walking areas, hiking trails, and observatories.


Have Fun in the Sun

Enjoy the Rio Grande Valley’s year-round warm weather and natural attractions by having fun in the sun with your family.  Instead of staying home for the weekend, drive to South Padre Island and spend the day swimming, building sand castles, soaking up some sunlight, or playing beach volleyball.  If you don’t feel like going to the beach, the Valley offers dozens of public parks in each city.  You can visit your local Parks & Recreation website to find one near you.  Most local parks offer jogging trails, picnic areas, and sports facilities.  Spend the day challenging each other to a game of kickball, going on a “nature walk,” and having a family picnic.  Make sure you check your local calendar to find out about free family events at your local parks.


Play Some Games

If you don’t feel like spending time outdoors or the weather doesn’t allow it, there are plenty of activities and games that will keep your family moving while staying inside. Challenge each other to bowling tournaments where you can engage in some healthy competition while practicing a sport together.  You can also play games and stay active without leaving your home.  Try out a dance or workout video together as a family.  If your children enjoy playing video games, find some that involve physical activity and play them together.  Get creative and plan family talent shows, dance-offs, or “yoga nights” where you burn some calories together without spending a dime.

Zhen Cong, Du Feng, Yin Liu, M. Christina Esperat. Sedentary Behaviors Among Hispanic Children: Influences of Parental Support in a School Intervention Program. American Journal of Health Promotion, 2012; 26 (5): 270 DOI: 10.4278/ajhp.100226-QUAN-60