How to get fit with your kids
Is your family in an exercise rut? Be an active role model for your kids with these five fun exercises you can do with them. Not only will you physically benefit from these exercises, but they are great for helping you bond and connect with your kids.
Exercising with your kids is a great way to get fit, be a good role model and even shed unwanted pounds. Check out our top picks for exercises you can do with your kids.
Step 1: Play tag
The game of tag may seem like only a childhood game for recess at school, but certified fitness professional Andia Winslow says it is actually considered a High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workout for all parties involved. We know kids love tag, but how do parents fit in?
"A friendly game of tag is a fun bonding opportunity that seems to be a pure game. Not so. Track athletes run sprint series from a dead stop. Basketball, football and softball players run lines as athletic drills. The same movement(s) is being exercised in tag," says Winslow. "The chase is exercise for all parties involved."
The best part is that you'll burn around 150 calories playing tag for 30 minutes.
Step 2: Do partner exercises
Winslow says size is not a limiting factor when doing partner exercises with kids.
"Children who regularly assist with or share in workouts with their parents feel empowered and confident. They are part of a team and are developing leadership skills," she says.
Here are three of Winslow's favorite partner exercises to do with kids:
- Exercise 1 — Pushup clap: Partners, both in pushup start position, align themselves opposite to and head-to-head with one another. On the same count, they perform a pushup, and when returning to the start position, they each clap one hand together with their partner. This move is fun and auditory, and it requires communication and synchronicity, meaning teamwork!
- Exercise 2 — Wheelbarrow pushups: Have someone stand behind you, holding up your legs. You should only be held up by your hands. Walk one step with each hand, and then do a pushup. Repeat for further repetitions! li>
- Exercise 3 — Jump rope: Do double Dutch or jump together over the same rope. "A lost art! Kids love it, and jump-rope games can go on for hours and can morph into countless variations. Not only does it attend to cardiovascular health, but it is also a high-intensity compound workout. Think muscle building here," Winslow says.
According to the American Council on Exercise, a person burns 0.08 calories per minute per kilogram of body weight when doing a pushup. In other words, someone doing pushups will burn 0.036 calories per minute per pound. So, a parent weighing 140 pounds would burn a little over 5 calories per minute of pushups. How many calories you burn jumping rope also is dependent on your weight and how fast you go, but a typical 140-pound person jumping 70 times in a minute would burn a little over 600 calories in an hour.
Step 3: Be a dancin' queen
Mom Annie Pryor says she has lost most of her baby weight by dancing with her kids. She finds that putting on music and dancing around the house is a great way to exercise when you have little time to spend at the gym and during the winter months when it is too cold to go outside. Plus, it's a great way to burn calories — burning around 220 calories in 30 minutes of fun.
"We play 'Cotton-Eyed Joe,' 'The Future Has Arrived,' 'Life is a Highway' and 'Girls Just Want to Have Fun,' and we finish up with the Superman theme song. We dance and run and jump. I add a few squats and leg kicks to my routine. Everyone has so much fun, and we all get our exercise. It is great cardio," she says. "I highly recommend dancing to these great songs for family exercise time — no gym membership, stylish workout clothes or Wii required."
But if you do have a Wii....
Step 4: Try interactive and Wii exercise games
"My family's Wii game system (Nintendo, starting at $100) not only gives us exercise, but there are many games which provide friendly competition," says professional speaker Darcy Keith. "My 7-year-old daughter and I dance side by side to see who can score the highest on Just Dance. We also bowl, play Frisbee golf, compete in Mario Cart and much more! It's given us a deeper bond by playing as a family, and it's allowed us to teach our daughter how to be a good sport."
Fitness expert PJ Stahl, M.A., CSCS, says there are many interactive fitness video games, including yoga, kickboxing, dual fitness challenges and more.
"For the next family night, buy some construction paper and create a tournament bracket. Your family will be battling it out in a healthy way to compete for 'family member of the week.' Give this winner some weekly perks: Pick dinner one night, pick a TV show to watch etc. The incentive will keep them motivated, and the fitness-oriented challenge will keep your family on track for a healthy lifestyle," Stahl says.
Step 5: Create an activity day, not an exercise day
"Take the family bowling, to a rock wall, to a water park or even to a high ropes course," says Stahl. "These activities are fun and adventurous for the whole family and do not have the negative connotations of 'working out' that kids don't want to hear. These events will not only keep your family physically active, but they will also give your family a chance to communicate and bond during a day full of fun challenges and fitness!"