Getting fit can be fun when you include the entire family. By making it a family affair you can all help motivate one another to eat better and get more exercise while having fun together. You and your spouse will enjoy the energy that results from a healthier lifestyle while the kids will be able to develop good habits that can last a lifetime. Best of all, getting fit with your family is a wonderful way to find room for both family time and exercise in your busy schedule.
The Fitness Challenge
The best way to get the entire family excited about exercise is to create a fitness challenge. Begin by setting a time frame. Offer some type of prize for the winner. Keep it simple. Getting to choose a movie to watch, picking a favorite dinner one evening, or being allowed to plan a family outing are all excellent rewards that don’t cost much and encourage further family bonding. Let everyone contribute by choosing exercises that will be required in order to win. Track each family member’s progress with charts that indicate which and how many exercises they accomplished.
Walking is one of the easiest exercises to do. The health benefits such as heart and muscle strength are amazing, and it is a great way to spend time together talking about your day. Choose a time that is convenient for everyone. This could be first thing in the morning before you rush off to a busy day or after dinner when things are more relaxed. You can also choose walking over driving when it comes to going to work or school, running errands, or going to your local park. Take advantage of this time to explore your neighborhood with the kids.
Children naturally love to play, and when Mom and Dad join in, it is even better. Get your weekly dose of exercise by planning play dates with the kids. Take turns picking activities so that you are sure to try out everyone’s favorites. Little ones love hide and seek and catch while older children enjoy bike rides and swimming at the local pool. Get the teens involved by having a weekly sports night where everyone gathers in the backyard for tag football or a round of soccer. As long as you keep it fun, they will all want to join in.
Daily Exercise Routines
Maybe you are more of a traditionalist. A routine exercise program filled with stretches, jumping jacks, jogging, or power walking are all great ideas that any age can participate in. If you are having trouble getting motivated or organizing exercises everyone can agree on, check out the classes offered by your local recreation centers. These establishments often offer classes on yoga, swimming, weight lifting, and more. It may be hard to find a class that you can all do together, but you can still schedule them at the same time so you are going there as a family. Use the trip home as a time to compare accomplishments and praise each other for a job well done.
What could be more fun than dancing? Make a big deal out of it by choosing one night as a designated dance party. Push the living room furniture aside or pull the car out of the garage. Any open space will do. Play a variety of songs, and let the teens choose their favorite hits as well. Take turns teaching each other your best dance moves. The kids will get a kick out of learning those steps they see on old TV shows while you just might learn a new move or two from them. Best of all, you are exercising without even realizing it.
Realistically, not every family has plenty of spare time to designate as family exercise time. Days are busy with the parents rushing off to work and the kids running from one school activity to another. By the end of the day, you are probably most likely to do nothing more than plant yourself in front of the TV. That’s okay. Simply turn the commercial breaks into fitness breaks. Rather than fast-forwarding those ads, get up and do some jumping jacks or sit-ups. You could even jog in place. To make things exciting, combine this with your fitness challenge. Make a chart to see which family member spends the most commercial breaks exercising. Winner picks the next show or movie to watch.
Walking for Charity
A great way to make sure the family is exercising as well as helping others is to sign up for local charity walks or runs. Many organizations hold these marathons in order to help raise money for their cause. A small donation is usually required in order to participate, but the entire family will love the fun atmosphere surrounding these events. Marathons are more than just one day of exercise. The entire family can prepare by taking walks or running together at home in the weeks leading up to the big day. Compete against each other as well as fellow participants, but make sure that the children understand that the real win is in helping your fellow human beings.
Turn Chores into Exercise
Along with the daily chores, there are plenty of big jobs to do around the house that count as fitness workouts. Gather the entire family together each week throughout the fall to rake leaves. Raking, bagging, and carrying them to the curb or your local garden waste center can be quite the workout. Don’t forget to make it fun by jumping into a few of those piles before carrying them away. Once the snow arrives, get everyone out to help shovel the drive and walkways. Nothing beats lifting a heavy shovel full of snow when it comes to a total workout. Again, don’t forget the fun. Make time to build a snowman before heading inside.
Gardening as Exercise
Gardening is an excellent form of exercise for all ages. Elderly people find the low impact work to be ideal while children become extremely excited about watching their seeds turn into food they can eat. Taking care of the garden requires a lot of stretching, bending, and lifting. Planting, weeding, and harvesting all require work that can double as your fitness routine. Use this opportunity to teach the children about nutrition as well. Once you begin picking vegetables from your garden, have everyone help look for healthy recipes that you can make together.
No matter which of these great exercise ideas you choose to do with your family, enjoy the time spent together. You will also be teaching them lifelong habits that they will benefit from for years to come.