7 Ways to Exercise as a Family

April 14, 2020

Today, we all including our children spend an awful lot of time strapped in our homes or plopped in front of the TV.  This prevents our children from practicing their emerging motor skills and strengthening their heart, lungs, and muscles, but it can also set them up for a sedentary lifestyle, and even obesity, as adults.

How can you help your child get the recommended one-plus hours of daily physical activity when you can't even make it to the gym? The answer, is to rethink your idea of exercise. “Working out” doesn't have to mean running or lifting weights. Think of exercise as leading an active lifestyle, which you can do with your family, and you'll be able to fit in more than you think.

Let these creative ideas help you turn every day into an opportunity to get fit—and have fun—together.

1. Go for pre- or post-dinner walks

Whether you head into town or just cruise the neighborhood, building a walk into your daily schedule ensures that it won't get put off. To make walking more enticing,  Makes a sport of it: look for a cat sitting in the window, at another  run up and down a short flight of stairs.

2. Crank up the music and boogie down.

Move the furniture aside, turn on Pandora or iTunes with dance tunes, and let the kids take turns using a flashlight as a strobe light.

3. Make a game out of household chores.

Pretend that dust creatures are invading earth and it's up to Captain [insert child's name] to save the day by capturing them with their broom. Turns folding laundry into a guessing game.  'Guess whose this is!'"  After correctly identify the clothing, they help fold them.

4. Turn TV commercials into fitness breaks.

Invent silly names for simple exercises like squats, push-ups, and sit-ups, and then do them together till the show comes back on. Call them princess sit-ups or Bob the Builder muscle builders. You can also play "coach," in which you take turns "ordering" each other to "drop and give me five," or "follow the leader," in which one person leads the others in fun, simple moves like clapping, wiggling, and marching.

5. Have a weekly sports night.

Every Wednesday, for example, get everyone up and moving. One game to play is the fit-deck shuffle. Create a series of playing cards featuring family-friendly exercises, such as bear-crawling or ape-walking. Each family member picks a card and performs the exercise pictured until all the cards have been dealt.

6.  Team up for gardening.

Kids are great at digging up dirt, so let them turn over the soil and help you plant new bulbs. Research shows that gardening is as good as weight training when it comes to preventing osteoporosis, and if you're planting vegetables, it can make them more appetizing to kids. In the summer, set up a sprinkler to water the lawn and challenge kids to duck the droplets.

7. Walk the dog.

New research from North American Association on the Study of Obesity shows that dog-owners had more fun losing weight and were able to keep it off longer than non-pup-owners. Don't have a pooch? Go look for some.  Go for a walk after dinner by suggesting they go "looking for dogs."



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