Family Fitness: How the Young and Young-at-Heart Can Get Fit Together
Family fitness is a wonderful way to help the entire family reach their fitness and health goals, and it can also be a great opportunity to engage in some family bonding. My kids don't yet understand the long-term value of our exercise regimen, but they have a blast doing it. They are getting their blood pumping and having fun at the same time, and what could be better than that?
Structured workouts are great for adults, but when it comes to kids, sometimes you must think outside the box. If your children are anything like mine, they get bored the moment the workout begins to feel like "work".
The family that gets fit together, stays together
Fortunately, I've compiled a list of fun and easy ways to incorporate exercise into your daily life so that the entire family can get fit together! So, skip that monotonous hour on the treadmill while the kids play outside and give one (or all) of these family-friendly fitness activities a try!
Get the most out of playtime
Devoting a minimum of 30 minutes 2-4 times per week to playing with your kids is an easy way to sneak in some extra physical activity. The range of options is close to endless, and should be picked based on the child's age. For example, young children might enjoy a family game of hopscotch or jump roping, while older children and/or teenagers may lean toward a competitive game of basketball or a brisk hike along some wilderness trails.
Make it a goal to plan one structured family activity each weekend, and soon it will become a natural part of your routine. Get out and spend Saturday afternoon hitting baseballs at the local batting cages with older children, or simply take your little ones to the park. It doesn't matter where you go as long as you keep moving!
Amplify family gatherings
The next time you plan a birthday party or family reunion, dish out a little exercise along with your cake and ice cream. Take advantage of having a large group of kids and adults together in one place. Both the elders of the group and the wee little ones can partake in a friendly game of volleyball or lawn bowling. If you're looking for more of a challenge, try a round of tag or organize an exciting relay race. We promise that seeing Grandma hop around in a burlap sack will be a memory you cherish forever!
Turn up the music while you clean
Who said housework had to be boring? Tackle this chore as a family and take turns picking songs to be belted out over the humming of the vacuum. Small children will get a kick out of helping by picking up small objects and sweeping floors, while older kids can bang on imaginary drums or head-bang to the music while dusting, mopping, and taking out the trash.
Bike, don't drive
Investing in bicycles for the whole family may be a smart choice if you've got fitness on the brain. Get those muscles engaged! Bike to as many places as you can: to the grocery store, library, school, or sporting events. Spend Saturday mornings wheeling around the local park instead of binging on cereal and donuts during morning cartoons.
If you're really serious about staying active, buy a pedometer so you can keep track of each family member's covered distance. Monitor progress in a color-coded exercise log book, or buy stickers that small children can use to record their distance. This option is sure to turn into a friendly competition that will hold everyone's interest.
Sign up for a class at the local gym
Another great way to get fit together is to sign up for a family class, such as one that involves swimming activities or a family-favorite sport. Not only will it be fun, but working as a group will strengthen bonds and trust and build confidence within your family unit. Many gyms offer family aerobics classes, pool activities, and much more for family groups to get involved in. Check with your local gym for a complete list of offerings.
One activity everyone in my family enjoys? Trampoline jumping!