Even though our attention is split between a number of different things in the world today, being active and getting outside has not lost its importance. Even as we still navigate living through the COVID pandemic, and as technology becomes even more prominent and favorable for entertainment, being active and in good physical health is still incredibly valuable! Staying active and physically fit can lead to better overall health, helping keep your family from falling ill.
Now you might be wondering, how can I convince my kids to be active? Just like many other family processes, you will always find greater success when you do it together! If you show interest and enthusiasm in an activity, your family will likely see the physical challenge (and resulting improved physical fitness) and want to participate as well. Ideally, you can habituate being active with your kids, and they will continue to live an active and healthy lifestyle.
Normalize Scheduled Fitness Time
One reason why your family may not be very active could be that you all are not used to having that time together as a normal part of your lives. It’s never too late to form a habit, so don’t hesitate in establishing a standard play time to do physical activities with your family.
Set aside 30 minutes a day for a couple of days a week and get your whole family together to do something active. At the start, you will likely want to pick the activities for your family and see which ones are the most fun and easy to get them interested in. Later on, you can add more days per week and have your kids decide what activity they want to do on a certain day. Next thing you know, you’ll be rollerblading every Tuesday after school!
Set goals with your family about fitness that are attainable and realistic. At first, you may not reach each of these goals, but remain positive and your family’s physical activity will be a normal part of your routine. For more family exercise ideas, look into the Let’s Move movement from the Obama Administration.
Switch Up Your Travel Plans
In our modern world, we are so accustomed to driving or taking public transportation everywhere we go, and it has become easy to forget about all the other options we have to get from one place to another. Spending less time in the car and using an alternative method of transportation is one physical activity you can do regularly with your family. Try to walk, bike, rollerblade, or skateboard places instead of always driving. Although it may take some extra time to get where you’re going, you are all more likely to enjoy your trip together and sleep much better at night after having a bit of extra exercise.
Getting up a little early to walk or bike to school is a great way to wake your brain and your body up in the morning—and it creates a healthy habit for your kids too! Go for a walk after dinner once in a while to get a sweet treat for your family and you will always have smiles looking up at you. You can also create a fitness challenge to see how many steps or miles you can travel together as a family and try to set new records each month. This could even be something you put on the fridge to keep everyone thinking about being active each week.
What Physical Activities You Can Do With Your Family?
With the desire to be active with your family, all you need are some good ideas and commitment, and hopefully you can create healthy habits with your children where you all want to be active together in the future. You may still be wondering “what are some fun fitness activities?” Well, there are a number of activities you can engage in at your own home, a local park, or in natural areas around your neighborhood or state.
Ways to Stay Active at Home
Home is where the heart is…and where you can keep the heart healthy too! Even without a big yard, there are some great fitness ideas you can get your family engaged in.
Teaching your kids to hula hoop is a really fun way to be active, and you really only need a couple of hula hoops to start having a good time together. Hula hooping requires some coordination, engages muscles that you may not otherwise be using in your daily life, and is a low risk way to get moving. You can start with the traditional way of hula hooping (around the waist) and then start doing other things with them, like using more than one hoop at a time, using your arms, legs, and neck to dance along to your family’s favorite music. Just like the circle that makes up the hoop, the ideas for fun are endless!
Another fun activity you can do at home is jumping rope. Again, all you need is the jump ropes and the desire to play! You can challenge your kids with double under, seeing who can get the most consecutive jumps, or learn double dutch together. Jumping rope is a great way to help build up some stamina in cardio for you and your kids.
Family stretching and yoga can be another fun way to spend time being active together. There are some already well-developed programs for getting children involved and interested in yoga. Once you are familiar with it, you can use your kids’ creativity to make up new poses. If your family doesn’t have easy access to outdoor spaces, getting down and stretching out in the living room is a great alternative.
Fitness Fun at the Park
Local parks usually offer green spaces, which are great for playing with your kids. Field games are a great way to get the family moving and involved in a fun activity together.
Playing frisbee is a great way to inspire your family to run around a little bit. You can start by teaching your family the most basic ways to throw a frisbee, learn some of the harder ways to throw, and eventually make up some of your own throws! Incorporating creativity is a fun way to keep physical activity fun for everyone involved. If you and your family are getting to be too good at simple catches and tosses, incorporate a second frisbee or transition into games involving frisbees. Even for young kids, a short disc golf course can be a fun way to spend an afternoon outside as a family.
Slack-lining is a really fun and unique activity. If you don’t have trees in your yard, take the slack-line to a local park and set it up between two trees. Slack-lining together as a family you will also be supporting each other to have confidence while balancing, making sure one another doesn’t fall, and building great core strength!
Family Fitness In the Great Outdoors
If you are lucky enough to live near a natural area like a forest, riverside, or mountains, then you should take full advantage of your local patches for recreation. Even if you live a bit of a commute away from access to the outdoors, you can make a special event a regular thing for your family to look forward to together. Spending time in nature is not only good for your physical health, but also is important for your mental, emotional, and spiritual development and well-being. Remember, being healthy is multi-faceted and doesn’t revolve around push ups!
Take a hike with your family and build an appreciation for the outdoors together. If you have smaller children, there are some cute ways to make hiking more fun for their creative and curious minds as well. If you are hiking near a river, lake, or other body of water, you can tell your kids you are searching for mermaids to pique their interest. Similarly, look for evidence of wood-elves and gnomes in the forest, and see what kind of finds your kids come up with. If you want to, you can hike up to a lake and tell your kids you’re all going to the nature pool! The more creative you are in telling stories and playing with their curiosity, the more fun they will have and the more you will all enjoy your hike together.
As your kids get to be a little older, see what kind of things excite them when it comes to physical activity. Maybe one of your children saw a video of someone mountain biking – you could take the time on a family vacation or a weekend to rent a bike and find an easy trail to see if they want to pursue it as a recreational activity in their lives. Perhaps someone in your family has taken an interest in different kinds of rocks—take some time to go out on a trail together and spend time exploring their curiosity.
Their interests may introduce you to something that you didn’t know existed, and next thing you know the whole family is involved! If you and your family do not typically have the chance to get out into the world of nature, make a point to get out for special events of the season. In the spring and summer, look out for local super-blooms and take the family to see hundreds of wildflowers on a hike through meadows. Alternatively, take the opportunity in the fall to travel somewhere where the leaves of trees are changing color and appreciate the natural beauty of fall on a hike or bike ride through the forest.
Fun and Fitness For All
At the end of the day, there are innumerable benefits to being active with your family and spending time together outside. You deserve to improve your family’s quality of life by being a little extra active. Whether you want to find a new, fun, and exciting way to spend time together or are looking to set fitness goals as a family to create a better life for yourselves, there are always more ideas to try out so that you can find success in your journey. Subscribe to our blog here to get more ideas and tips about keeping the whole family healthy.
Chief Operating Officer, The Compounding Pharmacy of America
Matthew Poteet, Pharm.D. graduated with Honors from Lee University with a Bachelors of Science in Biological Science. After his undergraduate training, he completed the Doctor of Pharmacy program at Mercer University Southern School of Pharmacy, graduating in 2004. Dr. Poteet has spent much of his pharmacy career on staff at two of the most prestigious academic teaching hospitals in the Southeast; Emory University in Atlanta and Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville. At these institutions he received extensive experience and training in sterile products compounding.
He returned home to East Tennessee in 2010, where he has held the position of Pharmacy Director at two sterile products pharmacies in Knoxville. Matthew lives in Knoxville with his wife, Chris. Dr. Poteet is Tennessee’s first Board Certified Anti-Aging Pharmacist by the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine.