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11:43 p.m. Thu, July 31st

5 fun family activities that are also heart healthy

Feb 2, 2012, 9 a.m.

One of the main reasons that people pursue heart healthy diets is so that they can be around as long as possible to enjoy their families. Therefore it makes perfect sense that the pursuit of heart healthy family activities should be at the top of everyone's list of things to do. But of course, not all fun family activities are good for you. For a perfect example, think: an entire Saturday spent sitting in front of the TV, sharing bowls of candy and a bucket of deep fried chicken. If you're at a loss for fun activities with kids that won't send your health into a tailspin, consider these five ideas.

  1. Dinner Together. Ever hear the saying "the family that dines together stays together"? It's true. But these days, having dinner at home with the entire family seated together at the same time has become something of a novelty, a relic of a bygone era -- all the more reason to make it a fun activity. What can make it a heart healthy one is to incorporate easy healthy recipes into your menu.
  2. Cook Together. You can take the idea of dinner together and ramp it up to the next level by making the preparation of the meal a fun group effort. Have a contest to see who can come up with the best tasting dish by using easy healthy recipes. By taking this unique approach you not only make it a health experience for yourself, but you might even impart some life altering healthy eating tips to your kids or grandkids in the process. What could be better than that?
  3. Take Family Walks. Walking is the original exercise, next to running -- but even the most die-hard of exercise enthusiasts will probably agree that a family walk will be more conducive to "fun" than a family run would be. Mix up your family walks by going to different locations and enjoying the scenery. Check out nearby hiking trails, or even head into the city for an afternoon of ambulatory sightseeing.
  4. Play Family Sports. While starting your own flag football team may be something reserved for larger families, you can still have fun bending and breaking traditional sports rules to suit the number of people in your family. The trick is to inject fun into the physical proceedings, and to steer clear of any type of situation that may create an aura of competition. Remember, you're not out to beat one another -- you're out to have fun activities with kids and to get your heart pumping at the same time.
  5. Take On a Family Project. Does your deck need rebuilding? What about that basement -- have you been thinking about finishing it and laying down carpet? You could take the path of least resistance (and the more expensive path) by hiring a professional to do it, or you could turn it into a family project that will accomplish three important things: it'll teach your kids and grandkids how to be handy, it'll keep the blood flowing and the heart pumping, and it'll give everyone a sense of unity and accomplishment. In the end, there are few things better than that.

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