Physical and mental health are important goals for every family. Many families are looking for ways to be active together, and for ways to strengthen their relationships within their family. Here are three tips to help your family get stronger… together!
For kids: develop physical literacy
Being physically active is something we all strive for, and is a goal most of us have for our children as well. But if we want our children to be active for life, they have to develop physical literacy early on.
Physical literacy includes being good at movement and sports, but goes so much further. It also includes motivation to be physically active, confidence in engaging in physical activities, knowledge and understanding of the benefits of physical activity, and freely choosing to be active on a regular basis.
So how do you develop physical literacy?
By providing opportunities to explore movements and equipment, and by putting an emphasis on fun! When a child is exposed to a variety of sports and activities in a fun, inclusive environment, the foundation is laid for them loving physical activity for life. There is also research that shows that a multi-sport approach prevents injury and burnout in youth. Swimming lessons, gym sports like basketball or volleyball, martial arts, and dance are all great ideas. The YMCA has some great multi-sport classes for kids, like their Lil Sportsters program for ages 3 to 5 or Sports of all Sorts, a program for kids ages 6 to 9.
For adults: try new activities
Teaching kids new skills and having them try a variety of physical activities builds their physical literacy and sets them up for a healthy, active life. But what about adults?
Studies have shown that learning a new physical skill in adulthood changes your brain for the better. It leads to increases in the volume of grey matter in the parts of the brain related to movement control, and changes the inner workings of your motor cortex by helping messages between neurons fire quicker and more smoothly. This is all proof that we should continue learning new physical skills, no matter how old we are.
So while your kids are taking their Zumba Kids class or are running around in a Sportball program, consider what you can do to learn a new physical skill.
Pickleball is a game best described as halfway between tennis and ping pong. It’s a little different, and it’s really fun. Martial arts might be something you’ve never tried. Aikido is a nonviolent martial art that increases your strength, stamina, and balance. Barre classes use ballet-based exercises to create core strength and increase flexibility — and there’s even a Baby & Me Barre class offered at the William Lutsky Family YMCA on the south side for new parents who are looking for ways to stay in shape.
For everyone: get involved in your community
There are so many benefits to being involved in a community. Being part of a community gives people feelings of belonging and of being part of something bigger than themselves. It gives them a connection to other people, which means exposure to diverse cultures and ideas. It contributes to a person’s identity. People who feel accepted and encouraged are empowered to live happy, productive lives.
This is true whether you’re a child, teen, or adult.
As a family, you can look for activities to do together that would contribute to your community. Volunteering or raising funds for your favourite community organization are great options.
You can also look for places near where you live to spend time together as a family. Places where you can meet others in your neighbourhood, expand your network of friendships, and strengthen the bonds of community where you live. Places like the YMCA, which exists to strengthen communities and has locations all over the city.
These simple acts of being together could not only change your life — it could change your world.
This article is sponsored by the YMCA of Northern Alberta. Since 1907, the YMCA of Northern Alberta has been working to support strong kids, healthy families, and thriving communities. From supporting people in their health and wellness to providing important community outreach programs, the YMCA is more than a fitness centre… it’s the centre of your community. With four health, fitness, and aquatics centres in Edmonton, there’s one near you. Try a membership with a free 7-day trial and find your place in the Y community. Visit http://www.northernalberta.ymca.ca/Join.