Getting the entire family to exercise can feel like pulling teeth. Parents and children alike grow accustomed to the modern sedentary lifestyle (think of their video games, and your office work). So you need to learn how to make family fitness fun!
Building active, healthy habits into your family culture does require some maneuvering. However, your efforts are well worth it. The benefits of group play are unparalleled when it comes to childhood development. Not only does exercising collectively help to keep kids fit and active, but group fitness builds and strengthens social skills and engages their brains.
How can you make family fitness fun? We’ve put together 4 top tips and activity suggestions that blend exercise and fun to help you work towards a healthy future for your family.
- Encourage the fun aspects of exercise
Family fitness will NOT be fun if you try to force kids into constant running drills — especially if they’ve explicitly specified their dislike for exercise. So when you set about your mission to make family fitness fun, gather the troops together and make a list of each family member’s preferred activities. From there, create a fun weekly or monthly activity roster so that each person gets a turn to do their favorite activity with the rest of the family.
Keep a log, and whenever you hit a milestone as a family, plan a reward — not junk-food based, of course, but perhaps a family movie night or a weekend camping trip.
- Get innovative with your activity ideas
An exercise program doesn’t have to be complicated. Try some simple ideas to get the ball rolling. You might consider visiting the local schoolyard and returning to good old-fashioned games like jump-rope, hopscotch, softball, and basketball. Swimming is another fun activity that doesn’t feel like fitness training. These kinds of family exercise activities can easily fill up your summertime fitness routine. Bring a volleyball and paddle boards, and you’ll be guaranteed a day full of active fun!
- Be resource-savvy
The success of family fitness often boils down to making the most of your available resources. A bare backyard becomes a far more attractive space for kids’ play with a trampoline – and once you have one of these bouncy apparatuses, you can build entire neighborhood tournaments around it.
If everyone in your family uses phones, you could make use of exercise or pedometer apps. This can be a great way to cultivate healthy competitiveness, especially between siblings.
And you might consider getting a dog! You wouldn’t believe how much easier it becomes to convince your entire family to go for a walk once you have a little furry friend to do the leading. A family pet may also be a great option for a group-exercise “reward” – he or she will be the gift that keeps on giving.
- Don’t separate exercise from everyday family life
If you make your family lifestyle active, you may not even need to build explicit exercise blocks into your routine. Many family outings can be made active, depending on what you choose to do. For example, a trip around the zoo involves thousands of steps, as does a scavenger hunt around the city. Miniature golf and kite flying are other great options.
Another great way to make exercise part of the family lifestyle is family sports days out. If there is a member of your family who regularly plays sports on Saturday mornings, for instance, make it an enjoyable family tradition to go along (and bring a ball so you can get the spectating kids working out, as well). The point is to make activity very typical, so that exercise becomes less of a chore and more of a habit!
About the author:
Harper Reid is a freelance writer from Auckland, New Zealand who is passionate about healthy living and fitness. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her running on the beach, practicing yoga or checking out the latest fitness trends. You can find more of her work on Tumblr.