With digital entertainment always so close by, it can be tough finding the motivation to get outdoors with the family for some fresh air and exercise. You want to get moving together, but not every workout is well suited for your partner or kids. Rest assured others have encountered the same puzzle and made it work. To combine family time with exercise, all you need is a little inspiration. Here are three family outdoor activities you can try today that will benefit your entire family’s health.
Build a Slackline
A slackline’s wide, bouncy tight rope is usually rigged between two trees. You can buy one, but our family has managed to use a simple ratchet tie-down and two tow ropes. Once it’s up, kids usually don’t need instructions to take to this classic challenge. Balancing on a slackline is plain old fun, and you’ll engage muscles you didn’t even know you had.
To install your own slackline, choose two trees (or other sturdy structures) in your backyard that are between 10 and 20 feet apart. Tie a tow rope around each, about 2 feet off the ground. Then hook a simple ratchet tie-down line to each and tighten it to support the weight of the largest person in your family.
Try out your new setup by placing one foot on the line, and slowly bringing your other foot up as well. Once everyone masters the stance, give it a slight bounce. Making this skill second nature gives you time to learn some slackline tricks to perform together. Can you sit or kneel on it? How about trying a beginner yoga pose on the line?
You don’t need to venture far for this activity, and it’s the perfect go-to if you have a little one napping inside or otherwise limited time.
Even your own hometown may have spots you’ve never visited. Exploring new parts of the area is more than a fun game; it’ll get your heart rate up at the same time. Start by printing a map of your town and sitting down with it together. What neighborhoods have you never seen before? What historical sites are within walking distance? What points of interest are along the way? I think we just came up with a new way to play “I Spy”…
Then, leave the house together on foot with a plan to find points of interest you’ve never seen. Come back later and make a new map of interesting things you discovered.
For variations, consider splitting up the group—one adult taking one child and you bringing the dog or sibling. Start at opposite ends of the neighborhood and try to find each other on foot in under fifteen minutes without using any other form of communication (that includes text!).
The health benefits of walking have been celebrated for decades, as outlined by the US Department of Health and Human Services. When you add a time limit, you’re motivated to move quickly. This family exercise boosts the heart rate, and because you have a goal to achieve, you may not even realize you’re working out.
Help a Neighbor
The first time I offered to help an elderly neighbor, I was surprised by the physical work involved. She was a smart, witty friend who simply wasn’t able to keep up on the physical needs of her yard, so I gave her an extra set of arms. And despite tasks that were easy in principle, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t sore the next day. It’s amazing how much harder you feel like working when you realize what good exercise yard work can be, especially for a friend so close by. Here are a few ideas for upping your heart rate as you tidy up together:
- Put on some music and dance as you work. Connect with your neighbor over an artist for whom you may share an interest.
- Hustle! If those exterior windows need polishing, do it quickly and thoroughly.
- Expand your reach; mow his/her lawn while doing your own.
- Offer to finish a job they may have started. If your neighbor needs the yard raked, bag and haul the leaves as well.
One of the best reasons to combine your helping hands with a workout is that you don’t need to cancel another weekly commitment or activity to make it happen. Take the time you’d otherwise be on your tablet or in front of a TV and do something more fun with someone who can use the company.
When I’m tempted to stay indoors or let the kids veg out, I remind myself that a family in motion tends to stay in motion. So a little inspiration (and movement) can go a long way to making us a more active family.
Family outdoor activities don’t need to take over to keep you fit. Combine your workout with family time! Tweet your tips to @TomsofMaine.
Images source: Bethany Johnson
This article was brought to you by Tom’s of Maine. The views and opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the position of Tom’s of Maine.