By Barbara L. Baldwin, DO, FACOP

It’s that time of the year to commit to your New Year’s resolution.  One of the most common resolutions is a promise to exercise more and stay fit — and it is often one we fail to keep!  Try these tips to help you and your family stay healthy in the New Year and all year long.

Choose an activity you can easily convert into exercise.  If you live close to your child’s school, don’t carpool.  Instead, walk or ride a bicycle.  With mom or dad walking or riding along, this simple activity can be turned into both a fun event as well as exercise.  Mix it up: walk one day, then ride a bike the next.  Save the car for rainy days.  Take different routes to make it interesting.  Stop off at a park on the way home.

Spice up the time when you perform routine activities.  If you set aside an hour every Saturday for the family to dust, vacuum, straighten the kids’ rooms, etc., make it fun.  Be silly.  Turn on music and dance while dusting.  The child with the best dance routine — and who completes their chores — gets a prize!

Get the family involved in a new activity.  Sign up the kids to learn martial arts: they will get a kick out of sparring with dad.  Have family swim meets at the pool with prizes for swimming across the pool the most times or for the first time a small child splashes into the water.  Get involved in ‘geocaching’ – finding hidden treasures and planting some as well.

Get a dog.  Walking the dog, running with the dog and throwing balls with the dog are all ways to get you and your family moving.

Find out which school activities you can participate in.  Many schools have walks and mini-races for special causes.  Get the family involved, and get into ‘training’ mode by practicing the activity in the weeks ahead.  Or, join in a club’s carwash to raise money for a trip.

Plan ahead.  Everyone will be hungry after family exercise sessions.  Prepare healthy snacks, such as fruits and veggies — not chips and cookies.  Drink water, not soda.

Health and family are two of the most important things in life: try combining them in the New Year and everyone will be better off!

Dr. Barbara Baldwin is the South Florida medical director for After Hours Pediatrics Urgent Care. She is board certified in pediatric medicine and a fellow of the American College of Osteopathic Pediatricians. 

Dr. Baldwin previously owned a private practice, Princeton Pediatrics, in Orlando, which she founded in 1995.  Her teaching experience includes working as a clinical associate with NOVA Southeastern University’s Physician Assistant Program and as a clinical adjunct professor at University of Florida.  Dr. Baldwin attended the University of Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth, Texas. Dr. Baldwin has been a board-certified pediatrician for 25+ years.