“A family that plays together, stays together.”
Yet unfortunately, many family units all over get their exercise separately, if at all.
The kids play at school, on their sports teams, and with friends. Mom heads out to the yoga studio after dinner, and power walks with the girls at work during lunch hour. Dad spends his spare time mowing the lawn and keeping the house and yard in pristine condition…
While that might not sound exactly like how your family gets their exercise, it’s rare for modern families to spend the kind of quality time together that a heart-pumping workout offers.
Scary Global Obesity Epidemic
Some pretty conclusive research indicates that at least 2.1 billion adults worldwide are obese (sourceZ).
Better, but not necessarily encouraging is the fact that only 42 million children under the age of 5 suffer from that affliction (source).
Sarcasm aside, children shouldn’t need encouragement to get the 60 minutes of recommended exercise they absolutely need every day, and as adults we can’t use “being busy” as an excuse for being overweight and out-of-shape.
Following are some simple workouts that parents and their kids can do to have some fun and get/stay in shape at the same time.
How far is the nearest wooded park, mountain bottom, or hilly trail from your home? Getting out in the wild for some quality fresh air leads to great exercise and lots of opportunity for conversation with the entire family. Add some mental exercise to a hiking workout by playing identification games like guessing the names of different birds or plants and then confirming the answers with a nature book or smartphone app.
Don’t forget the bug repellant and sunscreen!
You can bike with the entire family around town, on wooded trails, parks, etc. If you live in a highly populated area with excessive traffic, head out to the nearest rural town from your home and hit the back roads. Make your family biking adventure even more challenging by creating obstacle courses using street signs, parking curbs, trees and other obstructions.
Multi passenger bicycles are great fun too. Tandem bicycles for up to five passengers (“quint”) are available for sale online and off, and really bring the entire family together as a team due to the group coordination effort necessary just to get the bike moving!
The Wii Workout
Someone at Nintendo was sure looking for karma points when they decided to create this interactive video game system. Every family should have one of these interactive gaming consoles. Play some Mario Kart, Baseball, or We Ski with your younger kids. Hammer out some classic slammin’ rock ballads with your teenager on Rockband.
Even if you can’t afford a new Wii, it isn’t hard to find them used in classified ads, pawn shops, or Ebay auctions.
Yoga might seem like quite a stretch at first. After all, it’s hard to find a 12 year old who’s interested in doing a group Mountain Pose with their family when they could be watching YouTube videos instead. However, most young kids will love attempting different poses and showing off their superior flexibilty next to mom and dad.
Do yoga together at home or head off to a local family-friendly yoga class.
Hit the Beach
There’s so many opportunities in and around the beach to burn some calories with the family. Run around and play tag in the sand and just try to keep from losing your breath! Play some beach volleyball, catch, or badminton. Find some rocks to climb on. Head out in the water for some swimming, surfing, paddle-boating, etc., or have walking races in the water to make good use of the added resistance it offers.
There’s lots of fun to be had at the beach. If you’re concerned about safety in the water, schedule your beach time for when certified lifeguards are on duty, or schedule play dates with other families to make sure there are plenty of adults around to keep an eye out for dangers.
At Home Circuit
Who says you have to go anywhere to get a good workout in? Send your kids to bootcamp right in your living room! Think of all the easy ways to get some exercise right in your own home, then combine them together in a circuit training session with little or no rest in between exercises. Start with 10 pushups, then 10 stomach crunches, next move to the stairs for some box jumps or vertical lunges. Make things more interactive by creating an obstacle course using chairs, tables, etc.
The possibilities are endless. Make things more fun by timing everyone to see how fast they can (safely) complete a circuit.
Get Jiggy With It!
Family dance sessions were what Will Smith was really singing about in his hit song from the late 90’s! Kids of all ages love to dance and you don’t have to concentrate solely on fast-paced movements either. Treat your family dance party like a high school dance – mix slow songs in with faster ones.
Teach your young ones how to do the Waltz, Cha Cha, Tap, or Ballet movements – then let them teach you how to Hip Hop or get down Gangnam Style!
Monkey bars aren’t just for swinging around! Most playgrounds offer a wealth of great heart-pumping family exercises. Use the monkey bars to see how many pullups everyone can do. Use steps or platforms to do step ups, tricep dips and decline pushups. Do squat jumps or lunges in the sandbox.
Time to Pencil in Your First Family Workout
Currently 385 million people worldwide have diabetes, the majority of those cases are type-2; a preventable lifestyle-related form of the disease that comes from eating too much sugar and not getting enough exercise. By 2035, it’s estimated those numbers will rise to nearly 600 million (source).
Just in the US alone, someone dies from a heart attack every 33 seconds. Many of these heart attacks are due in part to leading a sedentary lifestyle – in addition to cases of poor diet, smoking and drug use.
If you don’t want yourself and your children to be part of these statistics, get everyone moving with one of the workouts mentioned on this page and make it a must every single day if you can!