Adults and kids alike are recommended to get physical activity everyday. How can we really make this happen for our kids and ourselves when we don’t even have time for the gym? We can start by rethinking our idea of physical activity! Although sustained aerobic exercise is an incredible workout, physical activity doesn’t have to mean running laps or lifting weights, which requires certain time, space, and equipment we don’t all have access to. Moreover, physical activity doesn’t have to be a consecutive 60 minutes each day; you can work up to your daily hour with smaller bursts of activity a couple times of day.
As an added bonus, exercise with family doubles as quality time together, which is often the first thing to be replaced with television and computer screens. Below are a couple creative ideas to help you turn every day into an opportunity to stay healthy and happy together!
Go For Pre- or Post-Dinner Walks
Whether you head into town or just cruise around the neighborhood, building a walk into your daily schedule can become a great family routine. To keep things interesting, you can incorporate a game into your walk. Try “I Spy” and take turns choosing an object in sight (a blue car, a patch of tulips) and providing clues about what it is, while others take turns guessing. You can also add more physical spurts, by stopping at certain landmarks (a mailbox, a stop sign, an open field) for exercises like jumping jacks, squats, or high knees.
Designate a Weekly Dance Party
Make one night a week a special dance party night. Move the furniture aside and create a playlist of dance tunes from different decades. Turn up the music and show off your best dance moves as a family! You can let the kids take turns using a flashlight as a strobe light!
Make Chores Active
House work naturally involves a lot of movement that is aerobic and strength building. Get your kids excited to get involved by making a competition out of the chores. Create a list of tasks, divvy them up, and then put a timer on to see who can complete the work the fastest. It will still have to pass your cleanliness test!
Compete in a Playground Circuit
Your local playground is an obvious place for physical activity, but the whole family can get involved using a variety of playground circuits that will get your heart rate up and keep your muscles strong. Try this one, and then get creative and involve your kids in making the next circuit!
- Hanging Crunches: Grip an overhead bar or set of rings. Lift your knees and bring them as close to your chest as you can. Drop your legs and repeat 5 times to start, then work up to three sets of 10 to 15 repetitions.
- Swinging Cross Kicks: Sit on a swing and grasp the chains. Lift your legs so that they’re parallel to the ground. Cross one leg over the other, then switch, maintaining your balance. Repeat 10 to 15 times, working up to 3 sets of 10 to 15 repetitions.
- Slide Climb: Try this exercise only when you have the slide to yourself! Hold on to the sides of the slide, scramble to the top as quickly as you can, then slide down. Repeat 5 to 15 times.
- Park Bench Dip: Sit and hold onto the edge of a bench with your legs slightly extended, knees bent, and feet flat on the ground. Keeping your shoulders back, slide off and lower your bottom until your elbows are bent 90 degrees. Hold the position for two seconds, then lift back up. Repeat 10 times, then work up to 3 sets of 10 to 15 repetitions.
Make Game Night an Active One
FitDeck is a family-friendly card game that incorporates a variety of exercises in a fun format. Each family member picks a card and performs the exercise pictured for 30 seconds, until all the cards have been collected. You can buy the ready-made set of exercise cards from FitDeck.com, or make your own based on you and your kids’ favorite moves, including push ups, crab walk, and lunges!
Adults and children alike can get enormous benefits from yoga. Physically, it enhances flexibility, strength, coordination, and body awareness. It also helps concentration and an ability to find relaxation and calm in any moment. Try starting or ending your day with just 10 minutes of yoga poses, like the ones below. You can build up to moving through them in a typical yoga “flow”, where you don’t pause between poses.