There are plenty of ways for families to stay fit—together. But if a rigorous boot camp or Cross Fit class isn’t your family’s cup of tea, there are plenty of equally challenging and motivating ways for your family to stay active. Teaching your kids healthy values could be as simple as encouraging them to stretch when they wake up or go on a walk before sitting in front of the TV. In honor of Family Health and Fitness Day, here are 10 simple ways to stay fit as a family:
1. Walk to Unwind
Walking as a family before or after dinner will help the whole family decompress from any tension or stress. This bonding experience forces everyone to step away from electronics and work and talk with each other about the day. Walking daily is good for your heart, prevents diseases, tones your lower body and boosts positive feelings.
2. TV Commercial Fitness
Watching TV does not always have to be a bad thing. Turn commercial breaks into fitness breaks and come up with fun names for exercises. Physical therapist Peter Kofitsas of New York City suggests “princess sit-ups” or “Bob the Builder muscle builders.” Have each member of the family take turns playing coach. Moves could be as simple as jumping jacks, marching or running in place while the show is on a commercial break.
3. Weekly Sports Night
Pick one night of the week when everyone is home and designate it as a family sports night. When the weather is nice, head to the backyard or park for Frisbee, football or basketball. When the temperature drops bring the activities inside with sardines, Simon Says, aerobic DVDs or fitness video games. With Wii Fit, the family can slalom ski, box or play tennis in the comfort of home!
4. Fundraiser Runs
Sign the family up for a charity run or walk, and stick to a manageable distance. Train together as a family team. Make a training schedule that is low-intensity and works with everyone’s schedule. The key is to make this something for the whole family to look forward to, not dread.
5. Hard Work Made Fun
When your kids help out with household chores, turn on some music and encourage them to dance while cleaning. Have everyone contribute his or her favorite songs to a playlist. Who knows? Maybe chores will become something your kids actually want to do. There is always some kind of yard work to do year-round as well. Have a competition on who can pick up the most leaves in the fall. In the winter make snow angels to help clear the driveway and finish with a shovel. Gardening has innumerable health benefits for both physical and mental health. Your kids will love digging in the dirt and deciding where to put the flowers or vegetables.
6. Start Stretching Early
It is never too early (or too late) to start practicing yoga or daily stretching. At a younger age, kids have natural flexibility, and turning yoga into a habit could protect them from injury later in life. Yoga relieves stress, which makes it great for Mom and Dad too.
7. Weekend Activities
Encourage the family to spend time outdoors on the weekends by exploring nearby caves, waterfalls or lakes. Low-key hiking trips will create life-long memories and give the your kids a lasting appreciation for nature. Schedule adventurous excursions a couple times a month.
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8. Learn Your Child’s Sport
As your kids try different activities, they will likely find one sport that becomes “their thing.” This may include skateboarding, ballet, karate or rock climbing. Whatever sport your kids are drawn to, it is important to let them teach you what they are learning, and you may even try taking a class yourself. Your kids will feel empowered, and the whole family will have something fun to talk about.
9. Community Service
Volunteering at a local charity can be hard work. Very often community service includes sorting boxes, raking leaves, painting walls or other kinds of physical activity. Serving as a family is not only active, but will also help the entire family understand the importance helping others.
10. Make it a Contest
For competitive families, make physical activity a contest. Rank different activities like trying a new sport, number of evening walks or how many chores were completed. Each week track points to see which member of the family received the most points. Don’t forget to calculate a family total and reward everyone with a trip to get frozen yogurt or go see a movie.