The family that works out together, stays together! Don't settle for a boring trip to the park. Instead, maximize family fitness and fun by turning every outing into an exercise adventure.
Your neighborhood park is the perfect place to engage in family fitness. The beautiful thing about a park workout is that your kids will engage in active play the whole time you're there, so the only trick is for you to stay active, too. Try these activities to keep moving as a family:
- Swing and run: Push your child on the swings, and once the momentum has built up, run all the way around the swing set before pushing her again. You can do this with multiple children, too, so you end up pushing, pushing, running, pushing, pushing and running.
- Slide and squat: Send your kids up the ladder to the slide and catch them at the bottom. The only trick? Perform a series of squats as you wait for your child at the end of the slide.
- Tree tag: Engage your kids in a game of tag with one extra rule: They can't be caught whenever they're touching a tree, but they can only touch the same tree for three seconds at a time. They'll be running all over the park to stay safe, and you'll be chasing them the whole time.
The public pool offers endless opportunities for family fitness, as long as you commit to actually getting in and playing with your kids. The average woman burns about 500 calories an hour from casual water play, so hop in and get going!
- Sharks and minnows: This classic pool game is perfect for family fitness. One person starts as the "shark" in the center of the pool, while the remaining players are the "minnows" standing on the edge of the pool. The goal is for the minnows to swim to the opposite side of the pool without being caught by the shark. Those who are caught join the shark as new sharks, as the minnows continue crossing back and forth. The last one to be caught wins and becomes the shark to start the next game.
- Jet tag: Jet tag is a lot like tree tag, but in the water. The tagger works to tag the other players, while they swim from "safe zone" to "safe zone" — the water jets in the pool. Players can stay safe on a jet for up to five seconds, but then they must swim to another jet. If they're caught, they become the tagger.
- Silly swim relays: Split up into teams and agree on a few different ways to travel across the pool — kicking only, using arms only, hopping and so forth. Then race through the relay to see who wins. The winning team gets to choose the types of swimming for the next relay.
All those hours spent at the Little League fields shouldn't go to waste. If one of your children is practicing or playing a sport, instead of sitting passively on the bleachers, get up and move. Take a soccer ball and a few cones with you and practice kicking and dribbling the ball back and forth with your other kids. Walk up and down the bleachers and do lunges along the sidelines. You might feel a little silly if other parents are watching, but your kids will love the action, and the other parents just might join in, too.
Grab your gang and head to the hike-and-bike trail for a post-dinner walk. Instead of simply meandering along, use your surroundings to create a circuit workout. That log can be turned into a bench for step-ups. That big rock can be used as a dip station. Two trees can be designated as starting and finishing points for a series of sprints. Your kids will love the surprise challenges, and you'll get a great workout, too!
Neighborhood fitness scavenger hunt
Set up a fitness scavenger hunt to do on the weekend. Print out a series of workout moves associated with specific neighborhood landmarks or items. For instance, whenever you get to a stop sign, do 10 jumping jacks, or whenever you pass a brown house, do walking lunges. Then, chart out a path around your neighborhood and perform each move as you find the landmark. Your kids will love cross-referencing the list with the moves, uncovering each new activity along the way.
There's no reason you can't get fit at home. Head outside with the family for a daily bout of exercise.
- Backyard obstacle course: Use lawn furniture, natural landmarks and the kids' toys to create an obstacle course. Then weave yourself through it as a family. Make each pass harder by adding a new rule, like you have to hop on one foot or keep your hands on the ground.
- Dress-up relays: Kids love playing dress-up, and there's nothing they love more than dressing up like Mom and Dad. Grab some of your old work clothes bound for Goodwill and take them outside. Then set up a relay where everyone has to run across the yard, put the old clothes on over whatever they're wearing, run back to the starting point, take off the old clothes and pass them to the next player.
- Good ol' sports: There's nothing quite like a family game of Wiffle ball or badminton. Grab the supplies and head outside!
More family fitness
Fun ways to play your way into shape
Fall fitness: Outdoor family activities
5 Outdoor activities to keep your family happy and healthy