Fitness Fun in the Sun

BY KATIE KOZLOFF-BANKS

Summer time is here! Life can get hectic over the summer. Routines change, kids are out of school, you have endless plans since the weather is nice and you want to be outside with family and friends. You think you have all this free time and before you know it, it’s September. Here are some tips for sticking to your fitness goals and getting friends and family to join in.

  1. Workout in the AM. This is important for a few reasons. First of all, summer is hot. Getting your workout done early allows you to avoid the hottest part of the day. Also, as the day goes on, there are always things that come up and it’s easy to push that workout to tomorrow. Maybe your co-workers want to enjoy the nice weather and hit a happy hour at an outside bar, or your kids want to stay at the pool all afternoon. Getting your workout finished early on in the day gives you energy and saves you from that “missing a workout” guilt.
  2. A Quick Mix. Quick workouts can pack a great punch! Get a group of friends together and do a playground or even back yard workout. Get your family excited and involved by creating an obstacle course. Have different exercises at each station and run through the course 2 or 3 times. All you need is 20-30 minutes to get an efficient and effective workout. Add a sprinkler for some extra summer fun!
  3. Get in the Water. There are many fun ways to enjoy the water and be active. I got to try stand up paddle boarding a few weeks ago in California and loved it! It’s a great activity to do with friends or family. Work your arms, core and legs while you enjoy being outside and on the water. If you have a pool, get a game of pool volley ball or basketball going.
  4. Don’t Act your Age. We love playing SPUD with my nieces and nephews. It is always so much fun! Want a game to play with an older crowd? Try whiffle ball or kick ball. Running the bases and competing against each other is sure to bring some fun and laughs. Throw in 5/10 reps of an exercise at each base and it’s a great workout and game for any age! It always tasks us a few minutes to get up and motivated to play, but once we do, it’s a blast!

As with any time of year, you need to make sure you make your fitness goals a priority. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make things fun or include your friends and family. Just be a little creative and you can enjoy the summer while staying active!


Katie Kozloff-Banks, Wyomissing, is the owner of Katie K Active. 

This article appears in the July 2015 issue of Berks County Living. Did you like what you read here? Subscribe to Berks County Living »

Get Fit and Environmentally-Conscious

Many of us don’t realize the great advantages nature provides us. We are so accustomed to using products or machines in our daily lives that we forget sometimes that simple is great! This can be true in all aspects of our lives, even with fitness and health goals. Here are some ways you can be healthy and active, without creating a huge carbon footprint.

  • Get outside. Go for a hike, walk, run or bike ride. Fresh air can alleviate stress and increase happiness. Getting outside will help reenergize you and make you feel great. I know that going for a walk or run helps me clear my head. I love the way I feel after taking in some nature.
  • Hit up a playground for circuit training. A playground has all the equipment you need – and it’s free – so use it! You can do pull-ups on the monkey bars. Use a bench for dips or step-ups. Put your feet in a swing and work your abs with a simple plank or make it harder by bringing your knees to your chest while in plank position. Have fun and do the rings without touching your feet to the ground. The options are endless! Be creative and you can turn any area into a great spot for a tough workout.
  • Travel by bike or foot. Biking or walking to work is a great way to incorporate some extra exercise into your life. It’s also a good way to give yourself time to prepare for the day ahead and to end your day and reflect as well. You will have time to think, listen to music or an inspirational book. But mostly, it gives you important time with yourself.
  • Outdoor Boot Camp. There are a lot of fitness instructors who run their own outdoor boot camp classes. This is a fun way to be outside but get in a workout. Do it with friends or meet new people.
  • Participate in local races. Many cities and towns have runs. I think there are seasons here where it feels like there is a race every weekend. Participate in these to help raise money for charity. Almost every run store coordinates its own weekly running group. Join in and meet people, push yourself and develop your skill.
  • Join a local team. I loved playing in adult sports leagues. It was great getting my workout in without it ever feeling like it was a workout. It was a fun way to be a part of a team and fulfill that competitive desire.

This article appears in the April 2015 issue of Berks County Living

Did you like what you read here? Subscribe to Berks County Living »

5 Healthy Ways to Survive the Holiday Season with Fleet Feet Sports

 

 

  

 

5 Healthy Ways to Survive the Holiday Season with Fleet Feet Sports

It’s that time of year again, filled with holiday sweets and cocktails. Did you know that the average American gains about five pounds between Thanksgiving and New Years? Below are some tips to help you avoid gaining those extra pounds this holiday season.

  1. Moderate Alcohol Intake: Remember that glass of wine or beer contains calories. Alcohol contains 7 calories per gram which means when you grab a cocktail you’re not only consuming calories from the mix but from the alcohol as well. A long island ice tea contains about 543 calories, a 12 ounce beer contains about 150 and four ounces of wine contains about 100 calories. Alternate your drinks with water to cut back on calories and fill you up so you are less likely to overeat.
  2. Balance Your Meals: Filling your plate with sweets will leave you with a sugar rush and your body will miss out on key nutrients. Make sure to fill your plate with vegetables, whole grains and protein. This will provide your body with the nutrients it needs and keep you satisfied making it less likely to overindulge on the dessert.
  3. Eat Regularly: Many people choose to skip lunch so they can overeat at the dinner party, causing them to overeat at the party. Make sure to eat a light healthy snack before heading out to. Try a low fat yogurt, fresh fruit or a small bowl of whole- grain cereal with skim milk.
  4. Think Portion Sizes: Desserts can be part o f a healthful diet when enjoyed in moderation. One serving of pumpkin pie is 1/8 of a 9 inch pie. Imagine making an L shape with your thumb and index finger that is about the size of one slice. Share dessert with a friend and don’t feel obliged to clear your plate. When you feel full, stop eating.
  5. Keep Moving: The holidays are the worst time of year to abandon your exercise routine. Exercise not only helps avoid weight gain but it is a great way to release stress. Write down your exercise plan at the beginning of the week to help you stay on track.

– Kathryn Szklany, MA, RD, LDN, CNSC Registered Dietitian and FIT Professional, Fleet Feet Sports Pittsburgh

Active at Any Age

My mother is truly an inspiration, especially when it comes to keeping active as she gets older. For as long as I can remember, she played in a tennis group once a week. When I was in high school, she and her friends would power walk every morning after dropping us off at the bus. In the past few years, she’s only cranked it up.

She now plays tennis four days a week, and even occasionally picks up a fifth day!

Being active has helped my mom be independent, strong and capable. She’s been known to rearrange the furniture in her house for family events all by herself. She never shies away from heavy lifting and labor, helping anyone who needs it. She even takes my nephew (now 15) and niece (now 11) for six weeks every summer. She bikes with them, swims and generally runs around and keeps up with them! I can see how her active life helps her in her everyday life.

Being active is important at any age, but especially as we get older. Staying active will not only help you maintain your independence, but will keep your heart and mind healthy. There’s strong evidence that proves that people who are more active have a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, depression and dementia. If you don’t stay active, daily life can become harder and you may struggle with everyday activities.

Benefits of being active as you age:

  • Increase Hearth Strength with Aerobics. You’ll have more energy to do the things you like to do. It can increase your quality of sleep and help you fall asleep faster.
  • Strength Strain to Prevent Muscle Loss. It will help keep bones strong and protect your knees and other joints, too.
  • Maintain Independence and Flexibility with Stretching. Daily tasks like tying your shoes or reaching a shelf will become easier. When you are flexible, you have a more natural walking pattern, which decreases your chance of falling. Most flexibility is lost through inactivity or lack of movement, not age.
  • Balance Exercises Benefit Posture. You will improve coordination and also reduce your risk for falls by practicing balance exercises. A simple one is standing on one leg for 10 seconds (using a chair for support if needed).

The list of activities to choose from is endless. Yoga is a great way to work on posture, balance and flexibility. Weight training reduces muscle loss while strengthening your muscles and bones. Running, walking or biking keeps your heart healthy. It’s never too late to start getting active.

While some activity is better than none at all, the goal to get the maximum health benefit is to aim to for at least 30 minutes a day of moderate intensity activity, five days a week. At least two days a week your activity should include something that strengthens muscles and bones. Maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle as you age will keep you strong to accomplish daily tasks so you can remain independent. The most important thing is to find something you like, so being active is just a part of your life.

This article also appears in the October 2014 issue of Berks County Living

 

A Healthy, All-Natural Pumpkin Pie Syrup to Add to your Latte (and everything else!)

 As the weather turns cooler and the leaves begin to change, most of us begin to hear ‘the call of the pumpkin.’ From our lattes to our pastries, we are perfectly happy to have this tasty (and healthy) treat in EVERYTHING. Here is a simple and healthier version of pumpkin pie syrup that you can add to just about anything.

pumpkin-pie

2 Tbsp. pumpkin puree
1 Tbsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 c. sugar
1 c. water

  1. Simmer the sugar in the water until it dissolves, stir frequently
  2. Add the spice and puree to the pot and continue to simmer for about ten minutes

It’s that simple.

Now add about 2 oz. of your syrup to two shots of espresso and 8 oz. of the milk of your choosing and you have a yummy pumpkin pie latte. No espresso machine, no problem. You can add 1oz. of the syrup to 6 oz. of drip coffee and 2oz. of milk. Experiment and find a pumpkin pie coffee beverage that works for you.

PumpkinPieLatte

 

You can also add the syrup to:
Oatmeal, cream cheese to top your morning bagel, hot or cold tea, vodka (a one to one ratio) and whatever else you think would be made better with a little shot of pumpkin goodness. Don’t worry, we won’t judge!

Want more pumpkin? Check out this article called 100 ways to cook a pumpkin.

 

#DefineBrave Spotlight: Leah

Recently I was contact by Leah, after she discovered Katie K Active. She was so excited to find our inclusive brand and loved that we promote health at every size. I looked her up and immediately knew she had her own inspirational story to tell. Read Leah’s empowering #DefineBrave journey:

 

I am 35 and a mum to a 2 1/2 year old Miss named Sachi. I have struggled with my weight since I was very young and remember seeing my first dietician at around the age of 4. I began what I now know was disordered eating at around the age of 7 years and subsequently suffered from binge-eating disorder up until around 2 years ago.

Shortly after my daughter Sachi was born I was diagnosed with Degenerative Joint Disease. I felt stiff, old, and questioned what sort of mum I was going to be for this beautiful little child. Despite all of the causes for this condition, I could not escape the notion that it had come from a lifetime of excess weight on young joints. I knew that the only way I could get quality of life and be able to play with my daughter was to get moving. Having been that person who paid 3 different gym memberships at once and used none, I decided that if I was going to do this, it had to be for life and it had to be my way. I knew my background with food meant that I could not diet, so I simply started moving every day. First it was walking, then I taught myself to run up and down the side of our house and yard whilst my daughter slept.

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Once I felt confident, I hit the pavement and just started running and walking intervals. One day something just clicked and I promised myself that whatever happened I would not stop running – I was no longer that person who gave up. I ran 6.0km pushing Sachi in her jogging trailer through these crazy winds and up a long, gradual hill, and although it bloody hurt after, I knew that the ‘old Leah’ who gave up when things got tough no longer existed.

Running has always been a dream of mine. I’ve always wanted to be one of those people who just ‘goes out for a run.’ Completing a triathlon had always been a dream too that I had never expressed just due to the sheer absurdity if the concept of ME doing it, but I knew the game had changed and if I could run, then what was stopping me now? What I have since discovered is that nothing stops us except the limits we place on ourselves. We really, truly are capable of anything we put our mind to, you just have to be willing to work hard along the way. Know that it’s going to hurt but know that it’s going to be worth it.

 

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After my first triathlon I was hooked, so I joined a specialist training squad and decided to get my own qualifications in fitness. I felt really passionate about becoming a trainer because I know that for some people weight loss isn’t as simple as calories in vs. calories out. I believe that many people require a ‘big picture’ approach to their health and well being and this approach is the difference between a trainer who works you hard and a trainer who helps you change your life.

In June this year I ticked another goal off my list and finished my first half marathon. A week later I fell pregnant with my second child and despite the old hack of morning sickness, thanks to my life change I am experiencing a whole different pregnancy. During my first pregnancy I stopped weighing myself at 140kg – and sadly I have weighed this at other times without being pregnant. Now, four months into this one I am 92kg, which means I am no longer classed an ‘at risk’ pregnancy. To me this is ultimate pay-off for all of my hard work. Yes it’s great to go for a size 22-24 to 12-14, but better health and well being is my big ‘win’.

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If I could sum up my greatest tips to better health it would be these:

1) Think ‘sustainable’: good health and fitness is a life long journey, so every time you are tempted to try a certain diet or exercise regime ask yourself ‘am I going to be able to do this for the rest of my life?’

2) Do today what you can do tomorrow – Don’t work so hard one day that you can’t do anything for the rest of the week. Find something you enjoy and just do it.

3) Observe your food habits and don’t fight them – imagine you’re following yourself around like a science experiment and observe your behaviours. Ask yourself why you have suddenly arrived at the pantry? Are you really hungry? Or are you stressed, bored, or happy?

4) Learn about nutrition and then think about the energy value you are getting out of your food choices – for example, if you have an option of white bread or grain bread, think about what is going to give you better energy – you’ll soon realise that if you choose the white bread you may as well eat a piece of cardboard ;)

5) Be prepared – carry fruit or nuts with you and try not to put yourself in a situation where you are hungry and don’t have any healthy options. Eat before you go out if need be and always carry water on you.

6) Never ever fear someone judging you for having a go – by getting up, getting out and having a go you will be surprised by the amount of people you will be inspiring!

Follow Leah here on instagram for inspiration and motivation!

Have your own #DefineBrave story to share? Email Blogs@KatieKActive.com for a chance to be featured!

Leah was recently featured in an article by Born to Reign Athletics about plus size sponsored athletes.

6 Tips to Maintaining a Healthy, Active Lifestyle

I don’t know about you, but I always like to hear what my friends do to live healthy, active lives. Sarah is a friend of mine from college. She has an amazing job and career. However, for her that also means heavy travel and sometimes long hours. I asked her to fill me in on what she does to stay healthy and active.

1. Morning Workouts are a must: I always try and wake up in the morning to workout. I hate life at 5am when the alarm goes off, but working out in the morning means I can complete the rest of my day without worrying. If I don’t, work always runs late, my couch is calling my name when I get home, someone wants to go to dinner – I can find every excuse in the book to not work out. Plus, I can gauge what I eat based on if I worked out or not and adjust accordingly.

2. Visualize: It’s definitely hard to stay motivated and focused. But I want to like putting on cute clothes and feel good – that is what drives me.

3. Always Be Prepared: I have snacks everywhere – in my laptop bag, my purse, my car. I can’t think properly when I’m hungry – so even having the extra calories of a snack will help me from making a bad decision later. Note: Order oatmeal from Starbucks as a healthy breakfast options and then save the packs of dried berries and nuts in your purse for when you need a munchie!

Throwing the first pitch at a Cubs game!

Throwing the first pitch at a Cubs game!

4. Keep eating enjoyable: I do “swaps”. I love French fries. I can’t help it. So I get a turkey burger and don’t eat the bun. I don’t eat all the fries on my plate, but I feel better that I’ve made a swap versus eating both delicious options.

5. Every bit counts: In the office, I always take the stairs to my floor and get up and walk to talk to my co-workers – it makes a difference.

6. A long and healthy life: I look at older generations who may not have had the information and education we currently do about our health and exercise. I do not want to grow old painfully and sickly – I want to take care of my body so it takes care of me for a long time.

Sarah and I getting ready to watch Michigan Football

Sarah and I getting ready to watch Michigan Football

“I work so hard at my career – why wouldn’t I work as hard at my health and fitness? The whole package is a 360 degree approach – my body has to be held to the same standards I hold my mind” – I think that pretty much sums it up! We give our all to so many things, why wouldn’t you do the same for your health?

We want to hear from you! What are your tips for staying healthy and active? Submit your tips to Blogs@KatieKActive.com for a chance to get featured!

Get Social with Katie K Active

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Guest Video: Katie K Active No Roll Fit with Emily from EMJ Pilates

Guest Video: Katie K Active No Roll Fit with Emily from EMJ Pilates

Guest Post: Katie K Active No Roll Fit with Emily from EMJ Pilates

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Tips for Beating the Heat

Tips for Beating the Heat with Katie K Active

Summer is in full swing, which means hot weather, sunshine and fun! The humidity and heat can make it hard to get motivated and stay on track with your fitness goals though. But the benefits of exercise (increased energy, improved immune system, better health) are year-round, so don’t let the heat ruin your active lifestyle. Beat the heat with these six tips:

  1. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Be sure to drink plenty of water all day long, not just before or after your workout. You need to replenish the water you lose through sweat, and with the heat of the summer, it’s recommended that you drink more than the typical 8-10 glasses. Drink every 15 minutes or so on hot days to remain hydrated.
  2. Hit the pool. Swimming is a great way to stay cool while getting in a total body workout. Pick strokes to target and tone different muscles while you swim laps or take a water aerobics class. The water is great for doing low impact resistance moves, too.
  3. Wear Sunscreen. Though it won’t keep you cool initially, sunscreen will keep you from burning, which decreases your body’s ability to cool itself. And it helps you prevent skin cancer. Protect your skin from the sun so you can enjoy more time outdoors. Use SPF30 or higher and reapply often.
  4. Go early or late. Avoid working out in the heat of the day, which is typically between 10am and 6pm. Exercise before or after these times to minimize the stress of the heat on your body.
  5. Choose appropriate clothing. Lightweight clothing promotes ventilation. Many brands use fabrics that wick away moisture to keep you cool. Dark colors absorb heat, so think lighter color-wise, too.
  6. Listen to your body. Hot weather can decrease your energy level. You may need to modify your workout and intensity. Be aware of headaches, dizziness, blurred vision and nausea. These are signs of heat exhaustion. If you experience any of these symptoms, you need to stop your workout immediately, rest, hydrate and cool down.

In addition to these guidelines, I have adapted a few strategies of my own to get me through the sunny, hot summer. To stay hydrated with flavor, I started drinking coconut water. It’s naturally low in calories, fat and is cholesterol-free and contains more potassium than four bananas. It’s extremely hydrating, too. The sweet-yet-nutty taste is quite refreshing.

Another lifesaver for me is SPF clothing. I tend to burn easily and don’t always reapply sunscreen often enough. I’ve found that wearing clothing with SPF is an easy fix and a skin saver. More brands are incorporating SPF into their clothing so you can protect yourself while being active. The Katie K Signature line fabrics all have SPF protection in their fabrics, up to 50.

Summer is a great time to enjoy the outdoors and being active. Just keep in mind that the humidity and heat can affect your body and workout. Pay attention to your body and how you feel. But don’t let the hot temperatures and sunshine keep you from being active and achieving your fitness goals.


This article appears in the July 2014 issue of Berks County Living

Katie K Active featured at FitBloggin ’14 by the “Get Fit Diva”!

Aliah Fit Bloggin FB Event

Read more about FitBloggin’ 14 and the Get Fit Diva (Aliah Davis-McHenry) on her blog

“Packing for Fitbloggin’ is a bit easier for me this year because I will be outfitted with the hottest attire from Katie K Active, a new inclusive premium activewear brand for sizes small to 3X. Katie K Active is the Exclusive Sponsor of The Get Fit Diva at Fitbloggin’ 14 so not only will I look fabulous in Katie K’s amazing workout attire, I will share my love of #definebrave.” – Aliah Davis-McHenry, “Get Fit Diva”

Some of Aliah’s Katie K Active looks for FitBloggin’ 14 include the Signature Racerback and Signature Capri in Coral Zebra:

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Be sure to find Aliah at the conference to learn more about Katie K Active, take a selfie, and enter to win a special prize (plus super secret saving for Fit Bloggin’ 14 peeps only!)

How to Train Like a Man

If you’re a woman, what does training like a man mean, exactly?

Here, we take a stab at the definition.

The topic of Men’s fitness was hard for me to figure out this month. Since I’m not a man, I had to think about how I wanted to approach this topic. Some women’s magazines talk about “How to train like a man”, but I’m still trying to figure out what that means. I know a lot of women who train super hard. Maybe harder than a man, although again, not really sure if there’s such a comparison.

Initially, a few stereotypical subjects came to mind. Women are notorious for being worried about lifting weights, which is what I think you’re supposed to think of when you hear “train like a man.” But weight training is great; it adds muscle, which will help you burn more calories in the course of a day, ramping up your metabolism, as well as helping to create a great toned look. Don’t worry ladies. You won’t get bulky, but you WILL gain strength, and maybe even feel more capable in accomplishing some everyday tasks. The other thought “training like a man” brings to mind is in intensity. Maybe men are thought to have harder, more intense workouts than women. I’ve worked out with both men and women and they are equally hard working, pushing themselves to the max.

So I thought about the phrase a bit more. I looked to my husband, who has been training for the last 20 weeks for an Ironman competition. I am impressed by his amazing dedication to this event every day. I’m not sure if I would have the same commitment to consistently stick to a specific plan for 20 weeks. There were days when it was snowing or raining and he’d go for a run. He’d have to ride inside on the bike trainer for hours. Even on those days that you just didn’t feel like doing anything, he’d be out there getting in the workout to prepare.

I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who’s impressed by his dedication and maybe a little jealous of his unwavering focus. I think of people who set a goal to change a habit or accomplish something, or maybe just to eat healthy consistently and how that can become a struggle to stay focused. You can always find an excuse or reason to derail and give in. The ability to put your goals first and feel there is no excuse big enough to keep you from accomplishing what you set out to do is admirable and impressive.

In order to help maintain his commitment, he decided to do the Ironman for a cause and also created a support system. He wanted to have something to keep him going on those days that he was tired, sore or just didn’t feel like getting out there. Picking a cause that gives back to Veterans and knowing he is helping support something has definitely helped him maintain his focus. He’s also created a network of people to join him while he trains. Having people rally around him as he prepares and to be there to push him has been valuable. Getting support from friends and family while giving purpose to his event has helped him maintain his intensity and enthusiasm.

Accomplishing any goal comes with a lot of focus, determination and commitment. So I guess when I think about what “train like a man” means, I think it means having unwavering dedication to a goal. However, I know a lot of women who have accomplished marathons and other incredible fitness and non-fitness goals. Therefore, I’ve decided that “How to train like a man” should be changed to “How to train with steadfast focus and commitment.”


 

This article appears in the June 2014 issue of Berks County Living

Get Fit as a Family

Being active as a family is a great way to emphasize the importance of living a healthy, active lifestyle with your children. They reap the benefits of all that an active lifestyle can bring and will be more likely to be a healthy, active adult!

There are many ways to be active with your family and have fun at the same time. Try these:

Create your own Olympics. Split the family into teams and compete against each other. Hold events like sack races, 3-legged races, relays and more. Use a measuring stick and see who can jump the furthest and highest. Have an egg toss, dribble a ball around obstacles or see who is the most accurate when throwing a ball. The possibilities are endless. Include the neighborhood to add to the competition.

Get Wet. When the weather heats up, there are plenty of ways to be active while cooling down. Hook up a sprinkler or water slide. Run, jump and laugh as you strengthen family bonds. If there’s a pool nearby, enjoy some water volleyball or basketball. Pull out the car, fill up buckets with soapy water and have a fun car wash.

Play Ball. Grab a ball and head outside to play anything from organized sports to fun games. Spud is a great game for families of all ages and it’s tons of fun. Or get the neighborhood kids together and set up a pick up basketball, baseball or soccer game. Impromptu games can help build skills and confidence without the pressure and stress of organized sports, while also encouraging teamwork and sportsmanship.

Take a hike. Go for a walk or hike and take in nature. Make it a game by spotting birds and plants along your way. Or just enjoy the quality time with everyone and use it as a time to catch up.

Create a Challenge. For example, commit to being active five days a week for the next six weeks or to compete in a 5K. A challenge will get everyone to try something new while learning how to set and accomplish goals. Make it fun and let each family member choose their own challenge if everyone has different interests.

Scavenger Hunt. Make it family-only or involve the neighborhood, scavenger hunts can be as involved as you like. Create a list from common items within your house or neighborhood. You could also do an “active” scavenger hunt where certain items on the list are activities like kicking a ball through a goal or doing a number of jumping jacks.

Go for a ride. Take a family bike ride. This is a great way to spend time together and enjoy some fresh air. Cruise your neighborhood or ride to your local coffee shop for breakfast or a late afternoon treat. Bike riding can also be a great way to get in some activity while on vacation. Check out the local scenery and town. In some places, you can take a ride on the beach.

All of these activities will help build family bonds and relationships. The idea is to have fun, keep moving and spend time together. Your family will see that being active can be fun and can help them feel good, too.

This article appears in the May 2014 issue of Berks County Living