Family Fitness: Fun Tips from Champion Figure Skaters!

Being physically active is one of the most important things we can do for our health. It reduces the risk of chronic diseases, keeps our weight in check, and makes us feel better, both physically and mentally. But due to our jobs, families, and the many obligations in our daily lives, exercise often falls by the wayside. This is bad news not only for our health but also for our children, since modeling a healthy lifestyle that includes physical fitness is one of the best ways to teach our kids good habits.

Read on for ideas about how to make exercise easy and fun for the whole family — some of them from the stars of the Musselman’s Family Skating Tribute.

How much exercise do we need?
For the most health benefits, adults should aim for at least two-and-a-half hours a week of moderate-intensity physical activity, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. That means if you go for a brisk, 30-minute walk five times a week, you’re off to a good start. Any physical activity is better than none. But the more you do, the bigger the boon to your health. Pregnant women, older adults, and anyone with a chronic medical condition or disability should always check with their doctor before starting a new fitness routine.

What do the pros do?

Curious about the fitness routines of our Musselman’s Family Skating Tribute performers? Click here to learn more.

Children and adolescents actually require more physical activity than adults, according to the guidelines— one hour a day is best, and should include vigorous-intensity, muscle-building, and bone-strengthening activities at least three days a week.

What kinds of exercise can your family do?
No one type of physical activity is better than the rest. In fact, you’ll have the best results with a mix of activities that range in intensity, frequency, and duration. These should include:

Aerobic activity. Also called cardio or endurance, these activities raise your heart rate. Examples include brisk walking, running, bicycling, jumping rope, and swimming.

Muscle-strengthening activity. This includes resistance training and lifting weights, or even working your muscles using your own body weight. Examples include climbing a tree and doing push-ups.

Bone-strengthening activity. Sometimes called weight-bearing or high-impact activity, these exercises promote bone growth and strength. Examples include jumping jacks, running, and weight-lifting.

How champion figure skaters make family fitness fun
It should come as no surprise that fitness is important to champion figure skaters. But the rest of us should find it reassuring that even these professional athletes struggle to fit in exercise. “With our very busy schedule, it’s hard to find the time,” says U.S. champion figure skater John Zimmerman. “Whenever we can squeeze it in, we do it.”

He and his wife, figure skater Silvia Fontana, love the Insanity and T25 DVD workouts. But they also consider playing with their girls and having fun outdoors to be part of their fitness routine. “Playing hard together at the park or in their bedroom chasing them and wrestling are all ways we get into shape,” says Zimmerman.

Canadian Olympic figure skater Kurt Browning, also a parent of young children, says, “We have started working out together as a family, but only to introduce our boys to the idea of regular exercise. Our workouts involve laughing as much as sweating.” He keeps the focus on fun activities, like jumping on the family’s trampoline.

When kids get older, sports can be a great way for families to have fun and stay fit together. U.S. champion figure skater Michael Weiss says that he and wife Lisa grew up playing sports, and have passed that active lifestyle on to their two children. Their son plays hockey, lacrosse, soccer, and basketball, and his daughter plays soccer and runs track. “When we are not out playing a sport, we hit the gym together. My kids are at the age now where we can lift weights and do cardio together,” says Weiss, who also goes for regular power walks with his wife and mother.

At any age, enjoying the activities you do is important to sticking with them. Shooting hoops, kicking a ball around, taking a family bike ride — even to the ice cream shop, as Browning’s family often does! — are all ways to introduce exercise into your life, and make physical activity a part of your family’s daily routine.