When I have a moment after work, taking my kids to their activities, and maintaining a somewhat organized house, exercise is the last thing on my mind. Plus, I want to spend it with my family. So why not combine both family fun and fitness into some family exercises? Aside from a good workout, you teach your kids the importance of staying fit and set them up for healthy habits well into adulthood.
The trick to getting kids to participate is to make it enjoyable. You could do some push-ups or go for a jog, but kids can quickly lose interest in the routine and avoid family exercise time if it’s naturally repetitive. Here are a few ways you can have some fun and get a great workout in so they’ll be eager to work hard as they get older.
Go for a Daily Walk
It may seem simple, but walking is actually one of the most beneficial exercises you can do at any age. Walking can help you maintain a healthy weight and strengthen balance and coordination, according to Mayo Clinic, and all at low impact.
Besides your legs, walking also strengthens your core muscles if you do it consistently and at an honest pace. Evenings and weekends are the perfect times to walk with the whole family. We take different routes through our neighborhood, and it’s a fun way to talk and explore the area.
Get creative with the playground apparatus and you can sneak a workout into regular playtime. Monkey bars, for example, work the biceps and triceps. Kids will get the upper-body workout they need to lift those heavy backpacks by just swinging their way across their favorite jungle gym.
For us, however, use the bars to do a few reps of pull-ups and chin-ups. Many parks are often equipped with circuit training equipment that can help you incorporate exercise into a playground visit.
Take a Hike
Much like walking, hiking provides a well-rounded workout. The best part is hills and rougher terrain produce just the right amount of high impact without becoming too strenuous. Inclines work the quadriceps, which go unused sitting at work and school all day. And besides the exercise itself, a family hike teaches kids about nature and to enjoy some memorable time together.
Pick a hiking spot that offers a good workout, but one that’s safe and not too strenuous for kids. With so much to look at and explore, your family won’t even realize they’re exercising.
Beyond increasing core muscle strength and developing balance and coordination, family yoga helps you connect with your kids and teaches them to be mindful in several aspects of life. Take your moves outside to your backyard or a park so you can tune into your natural surroundings as you work out.
Keep in mind yoga will be different with kids, especially young ones who have a harder time remaining still. Incorporate kid-friendly yoga poses into an easy-going routine that doesn’t demand full focus but is still a great way to stretch and strengthen your own muscles.
Family game night is a favorite in our house, so why not apply the same idea to exercise and swap out board games for sports and physical play? Pick a sport everyone can participate in, no matter what age. Soccer, volleyball, basketball, and tennis are all great activities you can pick up together for a great cardiovascular workout that uses all of your muscles.
Even games that cater to smaller children provide a good adult-level workout. Sand sledding is a favorite activity of my little ones, and though sledding may not sound like an Olympic-level sport, climbing up the average dune a hundred times for a race to the bottom is a killer on the legs and core.
Instead of a preexisting sport, you can also make up your own game centered on physical activity. One of my daughter’s favorites is to set up an obstacle course in our backyard. Running and jumping around various obstructions develops agility and hand-eye coordination, and when you make it a race, it becomes a great cardiovascular session. Get your kids involved in the planning and come up with your own games that incorporate body parts they don’t typically engage.
The best way to make family exercises successful is by making a plan and sticking to it with regularly scheduled activities. What does your family do? Tell us @TomsofMaine.
Image source: Sher Warkentin
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.