In Clay and Platte Counties, nearly one in every three adults is obese and at risk for chronic diseases such as high blood pressure , heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. To maintain or lose weight, it’s important to be active. Get the whole family involved and reap the rewards.

Aside from improving physical health, other benefits include:

Bonding Together

Exercising together is a great way to enjoy family time. There are no televisions, tablets or phones, just the opportunity to talk and laugh with one another.

Establishing Good Habits

Children learn by example. Doing simple activities together like riding bikes or going for walks can help children develop healthier habits that can lead to a healthier future.

Releasing Stress

Just like adults have stressful days, children do, too. Juggling commitments is challenging and overwhelming for anyone. Carving out some time to just “do” and not “think” can take the edge off for everyone. Plus, physical activity often results in restful and refreshing sleep.

Braden Dunbar, DO

Braden Dunbar, DO

Incorporating family fitness activities into your schedule shouldn’t overwhelm you. Braden L. Dunbar , DO, a family medicine physician with Meritas Health Vivion, has some fun, easy-to-implement ideas.

Walk Around the Neighborhood

“Exercising 20 minutes a day on most days is ideal,” Dr. Dunbar says. If 20 minutes seems challenging, build up to it by walking around your neighborhood. Walk a little longer or go a little farther each day. Make it fun for your kids by creating games, such as jumping over sidewalk cracks or playing the I Spy game.

Garden Together

Spending time together in the garden yields several health benefits. “Fresh air and a good dose of vitamin D do wonders for your mood,” Dr. Dunbar notes. “And the calories burned can really add up.” Mowing the lawn burns an average of 300 calories. Pulling weeds and planting flowers can burn up to 400 calories per hour.

Pick the Patch

The Northland is lucky to have several great “u-pick” patches that grow a variety of seasonal fruits. Staff members’ favorites include Alldredge Orchard in Platte City, Fun Farm in Kearney and Spanish Berry Farm in Platte City. Be sure to check their websites or Facebook pages for what’s available, hours of operation and cost. Walking through farm fields and picking fresh food is a great way to be active together. Plus, your children will learn about where food comes from, and you’ll support local businesses.

Run for Fun

Between now and the end of September, there will more than 30 5K races in the Kansas City area. Whether you want to strutt with your mutt, run at the zoo jog by a river or play in bubbles, there are options for everyone. “When you participate in a fun run, you’re not just running 3 miles. It’s an enjoyable experience, and there is less pressure to be an experienced athlete. If your family isn’t ready to run a 5K, walk the course,” Dr. Dunbar advises.

Learn a New Sport

While 73% of adults played sports when they were younger, only 25% continue to play sports as adults. If you need encouragement to get off the sidelines, try learning a new sport together as a family. Affordable opportunities are available through rec leagues or community education classes. You can also arrange a friendly game with families in your neighborhood. “Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box,” Dr. Dunbar encourages. Frisbee golf, wiffle ball, kickball and pickle ball are just a few unique options. “If you haven’t tried it, pickle ball is a blast,” she laughs. “I’ve actually been on a league for a year. It can get competitive, but it’s more fun than you’d ever imagine.”

“Keeping it light without major expectations or commitments can really enhance their desire to participate.”

Making exercise fun encourages the entire family to join in. “Exposing children to different activities makes a big impression on them,” Dr. Dunbar says. “Keeping it light without major expectations or commitments can really enhance their desire to participate.” Remember, it’s not just about burning calories. Exercising together can help your family build a stronger bond, improve communication, relieve stress and develop long-lasting healthy habits.