Getting Fit as a Family
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Getting Fit as a Family

Easy tips to eat healthy and get fit for families on the go

Getting Fit as a Family

Healthy habits affect the entire family. Kids learn from the habits of their parents, so it’s vital that the adults in the family know how to pass along lessons about healthy eating and fitness. There’s no better time than the present to start making healthy choices. Learn from these tips and make this summer the healthiest, happiest and most fun yet.

Healthy Eating

Surrounding kids with healthy food options and teaching them to love these foods is key to helping young ones develop lifelong healthy choices. When children are surrounded by nutritious options in the house, they will become used to choosing healthy snacks, and get the nutrients they need in their diets.  Incorporating a few good habits can make all the difference in growing kids’ (and their parents’) lives.

  • Fruits & Vegetables: Aim to get five fruits and vegetables into kids’ stomachs per day.  The fresher the veg, the better, but canned and frozen count towards the goal of five too.  Adding extra vegetables to meals like sandwiches and stir-frys makes it easier to rack up the servings at each meal. Healthy snacks, such as apples with peanut butter, carrots and hummus, clementines, and grapes and cheese add nutrition while filling kids up.
  • Reduce Fat & Sugar: There are tons of simple swaps that can lower the fat and sugar content in foods. Easy choices, like cooking lean turkey over fatty beef or cutting the fat off chicken, are a great place to start. Cook meats and vegetables with healthy olive oil instead of vegetable oil, and grill or bake instead of frying. Dairy calories can be reduced by choosing low-fat options for milk, cheese and yogurt. Be aware of the amount of sugar hiding in beverages and sweets. These empty calories can add up easily so opt to drink water, milk and all-fruit juice.
  • Portion Size:The whole family can benefit from knowing the appropriate portions for foods. Kids (and adults who want to lose weight or watch their calorie intake) should eat off smaller plates. The younger the child, the smaller the portion he or she should be served. The general rule is that the size of your fist is a good size for a portion. Also, kids should not be forced to finish their entire plate if they are already full. This is why it is best to start with small portions – there’s always a second serving!


Fitness is, of course, the other major part of staying healthy. The best part about working out, even with a family full of different ages, interests and skill levels, is that there are so many options. And if you think you can’t find any ideas...keep looking!  With a little extra effort and some dedication, even the busiest families can find time to work out together. There are a variety of fitness activities for the family, and children of all ages can absolutely find a class or sport they’ll love.

  • Buff Babies: The youngest babies are just along for the ride. They can be plopped into a stroller or bike trailer to join the family for a walk, run or bike ride. A back carrier is a great way to involve the child in an activity, and comes with an added bonus – the extra weight is a better workout for mom or dad!  
  • Toddling Tikes: Once kids are of walking age, they can join the family in a walk around the block or the park. Of course their little legs can’t go too far or as fast, but getting them involved in the activity is the key. When kids have developed better hand-eye coordination and are steadier on their feet, the options really open up. In addition to the standard team and school sports, consider adding rollerblading, frisbee, biking or hiking to the routine. Activities can be made new again by varying the location – a yard, playground, park or community center can all become family gyms that are fun for all.  
  • Tough Teens: When kids are in their teenage years, focus on making fitness a lasting habit. A walk after dinner, family day at the gym, organized walk, run or bike ride, or joining a community sports team will all make fitness into a fun habit for teens. Even involving kids in household tasks like gardening, raking and cleaning up the yard help to build muscle and burn calories. The best thing parents can do is be creative!

There are countless ways to exercise and have fun. Try out different activities to find what the family loves. Ideas include...

  • Hopscotch
  • Tennis
  • Swimming and other water sports
  • Hula hoop
  • Jump rope
  • Adopt a road/park to clean up
  • A family pedometer challenge
  • Flying a kite
  • Walking a dog
  • Renting a paddleboat
  • Yoga
  • Dance (in a class or in the kitchen)

UAE Resources

Registering for a run is a great way to work towards a goal and stay motivated. Go online to find a run; whether you prefer a 5 kilometer or a full-day marathon., from 5ks to marathons, is just a search away.  The Abu Dhabi Striders’ website is a helpful resource for upcoming races and runs in Abu Dhabi. It also offers weekly training runs to help motivate participants. Run Infinity also has a calendar of races sorted by distance, for Abu Dhabi and other parts of the United Arab Emirates as well.

Finding a nearby gym that offers fitness options for kids as well as adults is a great way to get the whole family into a healthy routine. Places in the UAE such as My First Gym and Fit 4 Two have separate classes for adults and kids, as well as activities for parents and children to participate in together.  

Check out Kara Martin’s blog on for her weekly roundup of fitness picks. She has great tips on classes, workshops and races, along with detailed dates, information and links.


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