9 Family Fitness Mistakes

Don't sabotage your own health and wellness! Avoid these easy-to-make mistakes.

We are all doing our very best, but sometimes family fitness mistakes can sneak up on us. To overcome them, check out this list of slip-ups and see how your family is doing. In many cases, you can really improve your health and wellness by addressing them. For whatever reason (and there are plenty of legitimate ones), you fell into some bad habits. Let's pull you out of them!

1
Not Planning Ahead

family fitness mistakes - not planing ahead for meals and more
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Creating and maintaining a healthy lifestyle takes some planning and preparation. If you're always flying by the seat of your pants, it's easy to make health and fitness mistakes (like eating too much fast food, or plopping in front of the TV too often). Planning meals, setting aside time for active family play, and scheduling your own workouts can feel like work, I know! But think of it as setting yourself, and your family, up for success. It's also a stress-reliever for the whole family when everyone knows what to expect.

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2
Not Getting Enough Sleep

Family fitness mistakes - not enough sleep
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Being a parent pretty much equals feeling sleep-deprived, doesn't it? But sufficient sleep is super important for health, wellness, and even weight management (as in, not enough sleep can make it easier to gain weight, and harder to lose weight). So work on improving the quantity and quality of sleep in your household however you can. It will pay off.

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3
Not Walking to School

family fitness mistake - not walking to school
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This is such a simple way to add physical activity to your child's day (and possibly your own). And it can actually help improve her behavior and academic performance once she gets to school. Even if it's not every day, try active commuting—meaning on foot, or by kid-powered bike or scooter—if you can. If it's just not possible where you live, consider other ways to get your child moving in the mornings. It could transform her school-day experience.

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4
Not Being a Role Model

Family fitness challenge - celebration
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Kids watch what we do way more than they listen to what we say. So we have to set an example. That can mean playing actively with them (instead of watching), showing and telling them how you make time for exercise, and limiting your intake of unhealthy foods and drinks when they're watching. It also means following the same safety guidelines you expect them to follow, like wearing sunscreen every day and putting on a bike helmet whenever you ride.

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5
Not Drinking Enough Water

family fitness mistakes - not drinking water
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A gold medal for you if your family is guzzling down lots of H2O every day. If you're not, start swapping out other drinks for plain old water. It's certainly okay to do this gradually. But as you up your water intake, you'll save money and calories, and improve your health while you're at it. Note that only kids exercising for long periods of time in hot weather need sports drinks. And remember that energy drinks are not the same as rehydrating, electrolyte-replacing sports drinks. Energy drinks contain lots of caffeine, and other ingredients that aren't good for kids (or teens, or anyone).

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6
Not Having a Screen Time Policy

family fitness mistakes - screen time policy
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It's okay if you think the no-more-than-2-hours a day rule is ridiculous. After all, it pretty much pre-dates all screens except the one on your TV set. But the fact is that screens can take away from active play. Too much sedentary time is not healthy for anyone, young or older. That's why it's a mistake to ignore the issue and let the chips fall where they may. Instead, be thoughtful about how, when, and why you'll allow screen time for your kids, and yourself (see mistake #4!). After all, there are some ways that television and smartphones can actually inspire physical activity.

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7
Over-Reaching

Family fitness mistakes - over-reaching on your goals
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Goals are great! But it's hard to be something you're not. When you make changes, it's important to set goals that you can really achieve. it takes time and effort to overhaul a whole family's lifestyle. Even if that's what you know you need to do, be patient and tackle it bit by bit. You might create a fitness challenge together, or help a kid find a sport he loves, or slowly revamp your diet to add more vegetables. You can do it! Just don't bite off more than you can chew.

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8
Neglecting Your Diet

family fitness mistakes - neglecting your diet
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Even if your family is super active, what you eat (and drink, see mistake #5) really matters. It's easy to fall into the trap of "just this once, because we're so busy." Before you know it, you've made a habit of skipping breakfast, treating kids to ice cream after every sports practice, buying unhealthy lunches, and cobbling together dinner from the vending machine at the ball park. Meal planning can help, as can this grocery list, these lunchbox tips, and these quick breakfast secrets. So can these ideas for dealing with crazy dinner-time schedules.

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9
Not Protecting Your Athlete

family fitness mistakes - sport specialization
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Sports are so beneficial for kids. There's no doubt about that. They promote physical activity, teamwork, perseverance, and so much more. But when kids play sports, they are at risk for both traumatic injuries (like concussions and broken bones) and overuse injuries. To protect against the former, safety gear and good fitness is important. For the latter, parents need to guard against overspecialization. Kids shouldn't play one sport exclusively until they're in their teens, and they should take breaks and try other sports and activities during the off-season.

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Overwhelmed?

We've all been guilty of these missteps at one time or another, so don't stress. Being aware of your mistakes is the first step, and now you've taken it. Start making simple, small changes, and you'll see a big impact—soon.

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