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In today’s fast-paced world, many people feel like they don’t have time for all of the areas that are important for a balanced life: Time for family, friends, work, errands, fitness and fun. Unfortunately, one of the areas most often dropped from regular activities is exercise. I have found that finding time to do everything can seem overwhelming, but if you spend just a little time planning, you can find ways to combine at least two of the important aspects of your life – family and fitness. 

Rather than spending time with your family watching television or being sedentary, why not incorporate physical activity into your time together? 

At the Tom Joyner Family Reunion at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, we had a family walk and workout that you can duplicate right in your own neighborhood. Over a hundred family members gathered for our family walk and workout at last year. From ages five to 71, everyone enjoyed the sunrise walk and our “old school” obstacle course, made up of fun activities from back in the day. You might remember some of these and add them to your own family reunion activities this summer.

The obstacle course started with a sack race, where each person climbed into a laundry bag, hopped 25 feet and then circled around a chair. Next up, was the hula hoop walk. Some obviously had lost their skill, while others showed remarkable hip movement. Beyonce, (a self proclaimed hula hoop champ) watch out – we had a few hula hoopers who might give you some serious competition! Following the hula hoop walk was a b-ball drill. You had to drill the ball through cones. Yes, we had a few basketball players in the house who definitely “got game.” For those who weren’t totally worn out by this point, the next phase of the obstacle course was jump roping. And finally, the last obstacle on the course was croquet. It looks easy, but hitting the ball through the cones presented quite a challenge. Most either hit the ball too hard or too soft, but eventually succeeded before sprinting to the finish line.

The good news about the obstacle course is everyone races against the clock rather than against one another, so everyone claims victory. 

It doesn’t matter if you’re a kid or an adult, take time out to play actively. Not only is it great for connecting and relating with family members, but it is terrific cardiovascular exercise. Fun, physical activities are a great way to make fitness a part of your family’s lifestyle.

I want to challenge you to talk to at least one other family member today and plan some healthy, physical activity at least once per week. Here are a few ideas:

– Take a walk.

– Go bike riding.

– Play tennis.

– Play games at the park.

This kind of quality time is great for making good memories, building stronger relationships and strengthening the health of your heart.  Just as important, it’s fun! Too often, we think of exercise as unpleasant, tiring and not much fun. But you can redefine your attitude towards working out by being creative and finding ways to get moving that you enjoy – and spending time with people who matter to you.

The percentage of overweight and obese people – both adults and children – is the highest it’s ever been our country. One way to combat this epidemic is to instill the virtues of a healthy lifestyle in children while they are young so that they can carry these values into adulthood. As parents or mentors, we have to be their role …..