Families: Let’s Move Together
It’s the New Year — a time when many of us look ahead and set some goals. The most common New Year’s resolution is to improve health and fitness. If this is your resolution, did you ever think about including your kids?
Exercising as a family can have many benefits. When kids are involved, the fun usually increases. When they are engaged and having a good time, kids bring a unique enthusiasm and energy to exercise.
Kids can help keep you on track and motivated. They might be the ones who insist on exercise, and keep you from skipping a fitness routine. Exercising together provides quality time away from screens, focusing on each other.
Ages and Stages
When you think about starting a family exercise plan, keep your children’s ages and stage of development in mind. What are they physically able to do? What do they like to do? How long can they stay engaged? A 4-mile hike might not be a good idea for a 3 year old, and a 10 year old might think a follow-the-leader exercise activity is silly.
Keep on Track by Keeping Track
Keep a journal or chart showing what you did and how much time you spent each day on exercise. This can be motivating when you see your progress, but can also be a reminder that you should squeeze in 15 more minutes today. Exercising is like any habit; the more you do it, the more you are likely to do it. You require your kids to brush their teeth every night, hoping that the habit will become so ingrained, that someday they won’t think of going to bed without brushing. Making a habit of exercise can work the same way and will benefit the whole family.
Think Outside the Routine
Typical exercise activities like walking the dog together, shooting hoops, playing soccer in the yard, and taking a family walk are fine. You can also step up the game a bit with some unusual exercise ideas.
- Create an exercise scavenger hunt. Put out plastic eggs with a fitness activity inside, or sticky notes with activities written on them: 10 jumping jacks, spin around 15 times, jump as high as you can five times. Put on some music and have family members find and complete each exercise task
- Create your own family Olympics with different events, such as seeing how long family members can keep three or more balloons in the air.
Caution: Balloons are dangerous and only should be used with adult supervision; never let a child put an uninflated balloon in his or her mouth, try to blow it up or play with broken pieces.
- Hold tag team wrestling matches by taping off a “ring” and taking turns wrestling with the adults. Kids love this! Add a few rules to make it safe: no hitting, kicking, etc., no grabbing the neck, stop when the other person says stop.
- See how long you can run in place. Take turns being the leader and let the leader change the pace by running fast, really fast, or even really slow.
- Check out some of the online crazy-but- kid-friendly exercise videos. Always watch the entire video before you let your child use it, to check for appropriate content — or make your own crazy family exercise video!
- See how fast you can wash and wax the car. This activity involves vigorous upper body movements. When you are watching TV or movies, take activity breaks during commercials or pause the movie every 30 minutes. Stop, get up and move.
Improving health and fitness is a great goal for the New Year. When you involve your children, you will increase the fun and enthusiasm while creating great life-long habits.