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It’s time to get your family up and moving!

Mark your calendars – Family Health & Fitness Day is Sept. 28, 2019! This annual event, which takes place on the last Saturday in September, was created to encourage families to partake in physical activity together.

“More than two-thirds of adults and one-third of children and adolescents in the United States are overweight or obese,” says Dr. Christian Shuman, a primary care physician at Geisinger Pottsville. “Regular physical activity can help combat this trend and is a key component of a healthy body and mind.”

On Family Health & Fitness Day, local organizations throughout the United States will host family-oriented health and fitness events at parks, schools, YMCAs, health clubs and other community organizations. The events are non-competitive and meant to accommodate participants of all shapes, sizes and physical abilities – from physically fit to just starting.

“The most important part of any exercise program is consistency,” says Dr. Shuman. “Events like Family Health & Fitness Day are great because they provide a chance for people to find an activity that they like and will stick with over time.”


How your family can join in on the fun

Taking part in Family Health & Fitness Day doesn’t mean you need to pack your family in the car for a trip to the gym. While there are organized events taking place around the country, there are also many activities you can do on your own.

“Get your children involved in planning what you’ll do on Family Health & Fitness Day,” suggests Dr. Shuman. “When kids feel like they have some ownership in deciding what to do, they are much more likely to be willing participants in what can be a very fun day for the entire family.”

Here are a few ideas to help you get started:

1. Contact your local YMCA or health club

Many YMCAs, health clubs and gyms host special events for Family Health & Fitness Day. In most cases, you will not need to be a member to participate, since the events may be sponsored by various health and fitness organizations. If the YMCA you call doesn’t have an event, ask if any of the other locations in the YMCA network do.

2. Take a walk at your local park

The event your family chooses doesn’t have to be officially recognized to count. Remember, it’s about finding a physical activity everyone will enjoy. If your children are interested in nature, a walk at a park can bring them face-to-face with the local wildlife. Having something fun to look at and talk about makes the exercise part of the activity even easier.

3. Find a fun fall activity

Many local farms are starting their fall activities like apple picking, hayrides and corn mazes. Take your kids and get lost among the corn stalks and treat yourself to a healthy snack or glass of apple cider after the activity.

4. Sign up for a 5K or fun run

If you’re already physically fit, sign up for a local 5K. Children learn by example, so seeing their parents or guardians take part in a competitive activity may spark their interest in physical fitness. Many 5Ks also include stroller- and pet-friendly 1-mile fun runs so the whole family can get take part.

5. Go on a bike ride

Grab your helmets and hit the town — or your nearest bike path. Biking is a healthy, low-impact exercise that can be enjoyed by the whole family. It’s a fun exercise that doesn’t require a high level of physical skill, but gives your muscles a good workout! 

6. Build an obstacle course in your backyard

With a little creativity, your family can use objects you already have around the house to build your very own obstacle course in the backyard. You may even want to invite your neighbors to take part, hold the obstacle course competition a few times a year and keep a record of the local champions and records to make it fun and motivating.

“Think of Family Health & Fitness Day as the start of your family’s dedication to staying active,” says Dr. Shuman. “Along with annual visits with your doctor and a nutritious diet, it’s the best way to keep your family healthy for years to come.”


Next steps:

Make an appointment with Christian Shuman, MD
Find a primary care provider
Learn more about primary care at Geisinger
Family riding bikes in the park on Family Health and Fitness Day.

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