Resolution: Encouraging Fitness Westchester Family-Style

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Resolution: Encouraging Fitness Westchester Family-Style

As a working mom who has lived in the region for over 20 years, I have had plenty of opportunities to ponder ideas for fun physical activities for my family. Having 3 kids of my own who participated in sports and activities, it would have been easy to sit at home and just relax on our days off in anticipation of busy days full of practices, rehearsals and games to run to. I have found, however, that families flourish both physically and mentally when they have activities to look forward to and challenges to pursue.

Maryann Buetti-Sgouros, Westchester Health Pediatrics, Westchester family activities, family fitness

Maryann Buetti-Sgouros, MD

 Westchester is a great area for family fun, challenges and activities.

Some are frugal and some might cost a little more money, but I have found even the more pricey activities to be worthwhile, especially when purchased early in the season when prices are often discounted.

Here are my favorites for families of all ages. Consider trying just one and repeat the activity as often as you can. Trust me, the memories and fitness benefits will be well worth it.

The bike trail: Running from the Bronx River Parkway in Westchester through Putnam County, this is one of my favorite freebies in Westchester. Even without a bike, you can enjoy the scenery by walking along the trailway. Relatively flat throughout, it is easy to tow your youngest children along in a bike trailer while riding along with your other family members. Early morning and late afternoons are usually best, and keeping a bike basket with water bottles and fresh fruit is great for snack breaks while you enjoy the ride.

My favorite family at-home gym: a hula hoop and jump rope (if you are in my private practice you have probably heard this before…bear with me): No large space is needed and startup cost can be less than $10. Most kids are naturally competitive , if not with others, then with themselves.

Take advantage with these items. Teach your kids how to do these activities and you are ready for daily challenges: daily best number of skips of the rope, longest amount of time the hula hoop is rotating, mom and dad vs. the kids, sibling challenge…come up with your own. The reason I love these activities us because the offer a great core and cardio workout combined with weight-bearing activity for strong bones.

Local town park and recreation programs: Almost every town offers a seasonal program of family-friendly activities, usually at a great price for town residents. Take advantage…you are funding these activities, at least partially, with your taxes! Tennis group lessons, dance lessons, nature hikes…get out there and have fun. Try something new with others who are just learning a new activity. You might find a new sport or activity you enjoy and even make some new friends along the way.

The Bronx Zoo: What a treasure right in our backyard! The key to making this fun and economical is to get a family membership which is good for one year and includes parking and tickets for numerous special exhibits. Plenty of walking among the amazing continental exhibits will make the time and the walking distance fly by. Having the membership also means you won’t feel obligated to see everything in one day which can be overwhelming with kids in tow.

The zoo has some healthy food options available for purchase but allows you to bring your own food, so pack some fresh fruit, frozen water bottles, and sandwiches to enjoy among the amazing background of this zoological gold mine!

Six Flags New England: Please note — this is a personal local theme park preference for me and my family. The reason I select this particular Six Flags is because the water park and the rides are located in the same park within steps of each other and included in admission.

I always find it amazing how kids that are reluctant at home to walk up the stairs to get something they forgot will practically dance up a 10-story ladder to go down a water slide. Your family will happily walk for miles to get from ride to ride. (Don’t believe me? Wear a pedometer. We are talking MILES!)

Just as with the zoo membership, the key to making this more wallet-friendly is to purchase season passes before the price goes up, usually after the first month. There are activities from April (when crowds are minimal) through October (Halloween).

The key is to pick an activity that your family would enjoy doing repeatedly and sticking to it.

Now…get moving and have some fun!

By Maryann Buetti-Sgouros, MD, a pediatrician with Westchester Health Pediatrics.

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About the Author: ML Ball