Fun Family Activities That Get You Fit

Photo by: Sander van der Wel CC Attribution-Share Alike 2.0

Summer is here and it’s time for holiday family gatherings and fun! Family vacations, weekend getaways or a day trip to the beach with the kids are great opportunities to enjoy family and get some exercise at the same time. Park the car and bike to the park. After the barbecue enjoy some fun games in the back yard with the whole family to burn off those extra calories. This Memorial Day weekend, get the whole family involved in fun fitness.

Have a hula-hoop contest! The kids will love the competition and you will love what hula-hooping does for your abdominal muscles and thighs. Hula-hooping engages your entire mid-section and  your legs. On the count of three everyone start hooping! The person who can hoop the longest wins. You can burn more than 100 calories in just 10 minutes of hula-hooping. Adults will find hula-hooping easier if they use a large hoop. A weighted hoop is even easier to use.

Jumping rope is another way the whole family can have fun and get fit. You and your kids can have a contest to see who can jump rope the longest or the fastest. Use two long ropes with one family member at each end throwing the rope and play double-dutch. Select two or three different types of jumping rope, such as jumping on one foot or double jumps. You kids will have fun and you will burn as many calories as running one mile.

Running is one of the best ways to get fit and burn calories. Why not make it a game? The whole family can play a game of tag on the beach, at the park or in the back yard. Freeze tag is a favorite among children. One person is “it” and chases the others trying to tag them. If you get tagged, you have to stop running, or “freeze,” until another player tags  you again. The child who is “it” wins the game when everyone is frozen. Make it a team sport by several “its” chasing and tagging others.

Staying home this holiday weekend? Play some one-on-one basketball or a game of HORSE in the driveway. Each player gets a shot from the free-throw line. Every time a player makes a basket, he or she gets one letter of the word HORSE. Keep score with sidewalk chalk. If you want a more vigorous workout, you can burn as many as 200 calories in a  half hour playing basketball. Basketball is a high-impact exercise that helps build bones and muscle too. Make sure you warm-up before and cool-down after the game to reduce your risk of a sprained ankle or pulled muscle. Cool off with fruit juice and water to re-energize your body after a vigorous game.

Taking long walks, swimming, biking and playing volleyball at the beach are great ways to spend a summer weekend or holiday while keeping fit. You will not only build muscle and strong bones, you’ll strengthen your relationship with your family and kids.

 

May Is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month

Photo Credit: Peter van der Sluijs CC-BY-SA-3.0

May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month. It’s a great time to start a fitness program or help family members become more active. It’s never too late to start getting fit. Children and teens should get an hour of exercise each day. Adults of all ages need about 1 hour 15 minutes of vigorous exercise or 2 1/2 hours of moderate exercise each week. Once you make exercise part of your daily routine, it’s easy to stay physically fit and active throughout your life. People who exercise regularly are less likely to have high blood pressure, reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and have lower cholesterol. National Physical Fitness and Sports Month is a good time to get active and to help family members become more active.  You can find more information about recommended activity levels for people of all ages and physical ability on the US Department of Health and Human Services website, Physical Activity Guidelines.
Help get members of your family off the couch and exercising by taking small steps. Choose an activity that every member of the family can participate in regardless of their fitness level. Begin by taking a family walk around the block after dinner two times each week for a month. Go for a family block walk three times each week the next month. Take the whole family for a bike ride or go roller skating in the park after dinner one night each week. 
Sign up for a family membership at your local YMCA or gym. Take the whole family swimming at the gym or YMCA every weekend. Meet up with family members at the gym twice each week and then enjoy a treat like low-fat frozen yogurt afterwards. Make it a routine and make it fun for everyone. Challenge family members by helping them to set realistic fitness goals and then make it a race to success! For example, challenge your spouse to a race to lose 10 pounds in the next 60 days by eating nutritious foods and exercising regularly. 
Buy fitness-friendly birthday, anniversary and holiday gifts instead of toys, games and trinkets. Bicycles, skates, skateboards and sports balls make great gifts for kids and adults. Don’t forget the helmets and protective pads! Dumbbells, pedometers, new exercise clothes and sneakers are great gifts for adults and kids. Try a new healthy dinner recipe each week. Involve the kids in making the menu choices and helping in the selection and preparation of nutritious ingredients and side dishes.

Can you think of other ways to get your kids and spouse or partner involved in physical activity and healthy food choices?