People across the country annually observe National Family Health & Fitness Day on the last Saturday of September by participating in physical activities together. The day began in 1996 to encourage the public to have fun and get moving. Sarah Lawerance, FireLake Wellness Center assistant coordinator and head personal trainer, urges everyone to take part in this year’s National Family Health & Fitness Day on Sept. 29.

“The benefits of being an active family is it lowers blood pressure, lowers cholesterol, and it can make you happier,” Lawerance said. “Also less sick days at school and more family time — it’s positive to spend more quality time with your family.”

She said families can go to a park or a football field and hold fun competitions that get everyone moving, even grandma and grandpa.

“Make it a fun activity where you’re kind of camouflaging exercise, but they’re still getting cardiovascular work,” she said.

Lawerance said many options exist to get active indoors when the weather outside is less than optimal.

Jogging helps improve cardiovascular health and can get everyone moving on National Family Health & Fitness Day 2018.

“Everybody watches TV. During commercials, you can have a challenge for who can hold a plank the longest. You can do jumping jacks, pushups against the counter in the kitchen, power walk around the living room,” she said. “Any exercise you can do outside, you can probably do inside and just modify a little bit.”

For young children, instead of doing traditional pushups, she suggests knee pushups. Lawerance also encourages stretching for all ages.

“It can help prevent injuries and increase flexibility,” she said. “Have a stretching contest. See who can stretch the longest or who can do the splits.

“Stretching, proper form and nutrition are the big three,” she continued. “As long as everybody has proper form when they’re exercising and having fun as a family, that’s the main thing.”

She said everyone needs to dress appropriately for the weather, and no matter the climate, staying hydrated is key.

Water makes up approximately 50-60 percent of all humans. If someone sweats for more than 90 minutes, Lawerance recommends a sports drink like Gatorade.

“Gatorade is good to replenish and to help with cramping and that kind of thing,” Lawerance said. Being active requires ample energy.

“If going out in the morning, make sure to have breakfast before going because if you don’t have energy in your tank, you’re not going to be able to do anything,” she said. “Just like gas in a car. You’re not going to be able to go anywhere if you don’t have any gas.”

National Family Health & Fitness Day also motivates families to step away from technology for a moment to make memories that could last a lifetime.

“Anybody can go out to a restaurant together. Anybody can sit and watch TV and have no communication,” Lawerance said. “This is interaction between the family, which is the number one thing.”

She said implementing physical activities into family time can benefit everyone involved. If someone needs help planning workouts and activities, she said FireLake Wellness Center physical trainers are on site ready to assist.

“If any parents or adults have questions or concerns, we can help make them a fitness program that they can do at home with their kids,” Lawerance said. “And we can conform them to any abilities. If someone has a bad knee or shoulder, we can give them exercises that are going to protect those and help strengthen them but allow them to still be able to have fun with the kids or grandkids.”

Gather the family and join thousands of others across the United States by participating in National Family Health & Fitness Day on Sept. 29.