10 Ways to Exercise as a Family: Staying Fit and Having Fun
When parents model healthy habits like exercise, they shape the future choices of the children, which can lead to lifelong physical activity. Research shows that exercise helps children not just in terms of health and fitness, but also has the following benefits:
- Improves behaviour, self-confidence and social skills
- Improves attention levels and performance at school
- Develops co-ordination
- Strengthens muscles and bones
- Maintains healthy weight
- Helps them sleep better
- Improves mood and makes them feel good
Here are 10 ways you can to exercise as a family to stay fit and have fun:
Encourage active play
Take time as a family to play games such as tag, jumping rope or hopscotch in your garden or local park. If you have young children make a trip to the park a regular and fun event where they can jump around. Praise their agility, speed, stamina and their progress to encourage their enthusiasm for being active.
Visit an activity centre
There are many activity centres for children where they can freely jump on trampolines, roll on gym mats and slide and tumble into ball pits. Yet, activity doesn’t have to involve money. You can have a dance party at home or go for a walk after dinner.
Encourage children to join a sports team or try a new physical activity
If your child is keen on a particular sport, see if there is a local team or centre that can take this enthusiasm and nurture it into what could become a lifelong activity. Martial arts are popular with many children, providing not just physical exercise but also self-discipline and social skills.
Give children activity toys
Encourage physical activity by having balls, kites, hula hoops, frisbees and jump ropes around at home. Have a competition to see who can jump the skipping rope the most times without stopping, or who can skip the fastest.
Limit TV time
Children mirror their parents behaviour in many ways. Limit your own TV time and suggest you all go on a nature trail, or out on your bikes. Parents who regularly exercise have more quality time with their children due to more energy, less stress and better concentration all round.
Plant a garden
Kids love to watch plants grow, particularly if it’s fast growing like a sunflower. Digging and weeding and preparing the ground will build strength and stamina. The rewards of seeing the flowers blossom, the vegetables grow and trees bear fruit is exciting. If you don’t have your own garden, see if there is a community allotment where you can volunteer.
Switch your movie night
Instead of spending the night watching a movie together, choose an activity where you need to move, such as bowling, miniature golf, go-karting or something similar.
Bursts of exercise
Just 10 minutes of moderate intensity exercise, six times a day, fulfils the suggested level of fitness for children. This can be a power walk to and from school, games in the playground at break and at lunchtime, and if late – running to next class.
Get ideas from online sources
You can find simple game ideas online. One example is a simple ball game where teams take it in turns to throw the ball at another team. If your throw touches someone in the other team, your team gets a point. If the other team catches the ball, your team loses a point. The team with the most points after 10 minutes is the winner. If your kids are not very motivated by your suggestions, you can create some enthusiasm by introducing the game under a title including their favourite movie character or superhero. The above game could be named Belle and Beast’s Snowball Fight for Disney fans.
Walk the neighbours dog
If you have not got a dog of your own, ask if any neighbour would like you to take their dog for a walk. Walking builds bones and muscles, improves stamina, reduces stress, and boosts the immune system for 24 hours. It can even lower blood pressure. Dogs know how important it is to have a daily walk — just follow their lead!