6 Ways to Work Out as a Family

Family Health and Fitness Day USA is Sept. 29 this year. Motivate the entire family to get moving with these out-of-the-ordinary activities.

Just watching a child rip and run around a playground can make even a fit adult feel exhausted. There’s a reason for that: Recent research has found that children have fatigue-resistant muscles and are able to recover from high-intensity exercise more quickly than adult endurance athletes.

It takes a lot to channel that energy, and children require more exercise than adults do. But parents who match their children’s activity level may reap better health benefits, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports, making a strong case for adopting a family-friendly approach to exercise.

Image source: Sarah Pflug from Burst


Making Fitness a Family Affair

Health experts recommend one hour or more of physical activity every day for kids ages 6 to 17, with most of the time spent doing aerobic activity. They prescribe just 2 hours and 30 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity (or 1 hour and 15 minutes of vigorous activity) for grownups.

Adult who bump up to 5 hours or more hours a week of moderately-intense aerobic activity (or 2 hours and 30 minutes of vigorous activity)—closer to the recommendation for children—will gain a healthier return, the CDC says.

There’s another reason to make fitness a family affair: Most kids do not get enough exercise in their regular daily routines. At school, recess is just over 20 minutes per day on average—if it’s offered at all. So, filling the gap with physical activities at home will pay off for both youngsters and parents alike.

Channel that energy

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Looking for ideas that family members of all ages will enjoy? Consider these beyond-the-basic physical activities to get everyone’s hearts pumping.

Reconsider the playground. Increasingly, park districts and recreational facilities are designing playgrounds with more than just kids in mind. Multigenerational playgrounds and outdoor fitness or challenge parks are popping up across the country, outfitted with exercise equipment, obstacle courses and adult-size swings and play structures that invite both grownups and children to get in on the action.

Reconsider the playground

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⋅Explore a new place. If your family is bored with the familiar bike paths close to home, inject a sense of adventure by exercising in a new part of town. Bike-sharing programs are growing—and not just in big cities. With bike-sharing, you can leave your own wheels at home and rent a bike to explore a place you don’t normally frequent together. Just make sure that if you do decide to ride in a city, your kids are confident bike riders who know how to stay safe around cars.

⋅Couch to 5K for a cause. Why not encourage your family to mobilize—literally—around an issue that’s close to its heart? Find an upcoming 5K or similar event for a charity you want to support—or better still, let the kids research and suggest some causes that are important to them. Then train together (and raise money) as a family leading up to the event. The payoff will be much more than physical.


Muscles and Bones Matter, Too

In addition to aerobic activity, it’s recommended that children also take part in muscle- and bone-strengthening exercises at least three days a week, and adults do so at least two days a week.

Make a contest of it

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⋅Make a contest of it. Push-ups, sit-ups, burpees and the like are great strength-training exercises for all ages. Divide the family into teams, pit the parents against the kids or challenge another family, and turn it into a competition. But don’t stop at one session. Organize a “tournament” with age-appropriate challenges and track everyone’s progress over several days or weeks.

⋅Dig in the dirt. Mowing the lawn checks the box for aerobic exercise, but digging, shoveling and hauling leaves and around the yard can extend the benefits to the bones and muscles—and to the rest of the family. Divvy up the duties and spend the whole day together working in the garden. Or, if you don’t have the space, consider signing the family up to tend a plot in a community garden.

⋅Practice yoga together—with a twist. September is National Yoga Awareness Month, and you don’t have to look very far to find a yoga class that will appeal to a family with disparate tastes. Look around your area for yoga classes at zoos, local ballparks and stadiums or even at animal rescues.

The recurring message within each of these six ideas is do it together. For more ideas and inspiration on health and  fitness, visit the Shop Your Way A Healthier You experience.



LifeYourWay Editor

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