Here are some fun ways to add fitness to your family time.
Between work, family time, and fitness, it can often feel like there’s only time in the day to pick two out of three. But why not combine activities by improving your fitness as a family?
Choosing activities that get your family moving is more than just a time saver. You can encourage one another to participate and keep each other on track. It’s easier to give up on your fitness goals when you’re the only one who knows about them, but much more difficult when you have one, two, three or more people cheering you on.
By getting your children active at a young age, you’re setting them up for a lifetime of healthy habits. For reference, the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend 60 minutes of aerobic activity daily for children ages six to 17 and 30 minutes daily for adults.
One of the most important parts of encouraging fitness with children is to pay attention to what interests them, and support that. Often, parents have a pre-conceived notion of what fitness is, or a vision of the type of athlete they want their child to be. Celebrating what the child enjoys and being a part of that can be critical to success. We always want to continue to expose them to new challenges, but one of the truly key factors is to let their interests lead.
Here are some ideas that might appeal to children of different ages:
Younger Children: Ages 6 to 8
It may help to incentivize your youngsters if they are resistant to physical exercise. Try setting goals or landmarks that they can work toward. For example, you could give them a small prize if they go on a family walk every day for one week.
- Go for a walk around your neighborhood
- Play a game of tag
- Play hopscotch
- Dance to upbeat music
- Visit a local park or playground
Older Children: 9 to 12
Older children with a higher level of independence can be harder to get on board with a fitness plan, but there are a few things that you can do to increase your chances of success. First, let your child choose the activity. They will, obviously, be more excited about doing something that interests them. Second, try introducing an element of competition to keep them motivated.
- Practice a sport together
- Play laser tag
- Have a water balloon fight
- Pick your own vegetables at a local farm
- Go kayaking
Teenagers: Ages 13 to 18
At this age, young adults can develop a deeper understanding of health and wellness concepts, so take the time to educate them on the importance of physical activity. In addition to focusing on fitness, you can also spend time teaching your child to cook healthy meals.
- Take a fitness class together: dancing, weightlifting, sports-specific training, yoga, etc.
- Go on longer bike rides, hikes, or jogs
- Visit a museum or explore a nearby city
- Throw a frisbee
- Go paintballing
These activities are just suggestions, and maybe your child likes to do something I’ve recommended for a different age group. That’s totally fine! What’s important is that they’re moving and having fun. At the end of the day, remember that, for children, exercise is play.
As we age, we start to put exercise into a special box called “fitness,” but when we are little, movement like playing on the playground, running with others, making believe – it’s all a type of exercise.
If you want a focused workout that you can do with your family in addition to outdoor activities, try the following: