Fitness for the Whole Family
It’s important for everyone in your family to get plenty of physical activity, but the lure of the couch can be strong. Sometimes you need to kick it up a notch to make fitness fun for everyone. Labor Day weekend is the perfect time to try some of our tips to get the whole family moving:
Make it a (friendly) competition
Turn walks into races, or a backyard ball-tossing into a real game with score-keeping. Make a dance party into a game show event with points awarded for the best moves. Who in your clan can take the most steps in a day, do the most push-ups, or twist into the most complicated yoga pose? You might be surprised! (Do keep your child’s temperament in mind, though; this strategy will backfire with kids who are sensitive about their abilities, or who simply don’t care about winners and losers.)
Step up the silly factor
If you’re dancing, go all out with crazy costumes and crazier moves. If you’re taking a family walk, tell jokes or sing goofy songs as you go.
Hip hip, hooray!
Make up a family cheer and perform it whenever someone achieves a fitness-related goal. Too dorky? The point is to support each other and celebrate wins big and small. And that includes mom’s and dad’s successes, too. If parents run in a race or make a great out at a softball game, play it up!
Be newbies together
As a family, choose a new sport and learn it together. Martial arts, yoga, and dance are especially well-suited to varying ages and skill levels. Or teach each other your favorite fitness activities. Kids love to reverse roles and be the instructor. Set aside a family workout time once or twice a week and take turns taking the lead!
Get a pet
If you have a dog or are considering one, these family members provide a real reminder and encouraging reason to get up and move every day! Many cats and rabbits enjoy some active playtime too.
Do it for a good cause
Especially if your family has been personally affected by the issue, a run, walk, or even a car wash that benefits a beloved charity can provide just the inspiration you need for some family physical activity. Plus, you can’t beat the extra feel-good message you’re sharing with your kids.
Gather a group for fitness fun
Sure, you love spending time together as a family but mixing it up a bit can be motivating too. Plan an active outing (swimming, biking, sledding, you name it) with another family. Team up to walk to school together. Invite a few of your child’s pals over for a backyard ball game or trip to the playground. Have an Xbox with Kinect? Grab some dancing games and have dance parties with friends and family on the weekends. Activity loves company!
Treat yourself to a toy
Yes, you can get plenty of physical activity with free or cheap equipment, or none at all. But a special new toy or game is a gift that keeps on giving. Next time you’re shopping for a birthday or holiday present, pick up one that encourages activity.
Take a cue from teachers and build a whole “unit” around your child’s favorite activity, sport, or athlete. Devote an afternoon to basketball, say, with themed crafts, foods, books, and, of course, active games.
If all else fails, take everyone out of the house and wait for inspiration to strike. You’re much more likely to find it outdoors than in. And don’t forget, yard work counts as exercise too! Sprucing up your outdoor living spaces has an added bonus of being very physical and can add up to a lot of calories burned. Just make sure to stay hydrated with a low-calorie drink!