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3 Ways to Kick-start Healthy Habits in the New Year

The New Year is a great time for parents to lead by example to instill healthy lifestyle behaviors in their families. If you’re looking for creative ways to keep kids active and off the couch in 2020, Mallory Carteaux, an exercise physiologist with the Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital Fit4Allkids program, shares some ideas to help parents start the year off right.

“It’s important to start slow and with low intensity,” explains Carteaux. “It’s always better to make it harder as you get fitter than to overdo it in the beginning. Overdoing it from the start typically makes people sore and overwhelmed so they don’t want to continue.”

How can I keep my kids active?

Kids and teens need at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day, but it can be hard to break the cycle of getting off the screen time. Here are some family-friendly activities that you and your kids can do to get moving:

  • Visit a local park that has free outdoor fitness zones, fitness trails or a standard playground. Using these can be a fun way to get in cardiovascular and muscular exercise.
  • Mix in bouts of walking or jogging with some repetitions on the fitness zone equipment, which can be a great circuit workout for both kids and parents.
  • Go for a walk or bike ride after dinner.
  • Try rollerblading, skateboarding or jump-roping; playing Frisbee or Spikeball in the grass, leap frog or hula hoop; or catch with a baseball football, basketball.
  • Go to the beach! Running and playing in the sand can add an extra level of difficulty.

Are there any indoor activities they can do?

Absolutely! While it’s nice to get out of the house, sometimes time or weather can hinder that. Here are some ideas:

  • Do yoga in the living room – this can bring flexibility and relaxation to the household.
  • Look online for infinite fun workout ideas and games that use easy-to-find materials from around the house like a deck of cards, popsicle sticks, board games — or that require no equipment at all like challenges that include squats, push-ups, jumping jacks, planks, running in place, mountain climbers or core exercises.

Any suggestions for kids or teens who won’t put down their devices?

Sometimes getting kids and teens off their electronic devices can seem like a workout in itself! But we can also embrace technology to improve health and fitness. Here are some tips:

  • There are a ton of workout videos online for everything from yoga to dancing, and aerobics to strength training that can be suitable for all ages and ability levels.
  • There are also the active video games and consoles that can be just as effective as a gym workout!
  • You also can’t forget about apps that provide encouragement and additional ideas to increase movement like a fitness tracking device or downloadable apps.
  • There are also app and device timers that you can use if you want to encourage your kids to get off the device and get outside.

For more fitness and nutrition tips and other health programs at Johns Hopkins All Children’s, visit

Author: Mallory Carteaux, M.S., CSCS, Exercise Physiologist, Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital




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