Make Fitness Fun for the Family!

Kids learn by example. That means exercise starts with Mom and Dad. Here are 5 ways to get moving.

Posted in , May 16, 2015

Family Frisbee. Photo: Thinkstock.

Editor's note: Congratulations! You made it to the last day of Guideposts' 14-Day Fitness Challenge. For the past 2 weeks, we shared stories that inspired you to eat better and get in shape so you can feel your best. Today's challenge is to get your family and friends in on the fun! If you're just joining us, check out our previous challenges here.

With the weather starting to warm up, the great outdoors is a great place to encourage family fitness. Here’s the deal: you’re the key to turning any couch potato kiddos living in your house into fitness enthusiasts ready to face any challenge.

Children learn by example, and most fitness experts agree that we need to do a better job of setting a good example in the area of making exercise a priority.

For instance, if your children see you getting home from work and crashing on the couch for two hours, then they’ll do the same. But, if they see you coming home from work and taking the dog for a long walk, then they will be influenced by that positive action instead.

With more than 25 percent of today’s children falling into the “obese category,” we need to find fun ways to encourage fitness with our children because their healthy habits begin at home. Here are five ideas to get started…

Michelle and her family out for a walk.1)  Scavenger Hunt
List 10 things for your children to find such as an acorn, a bird’s feather, a dandelion, a mushroom, etc. Then, go into the woods and look for all of the items on the list, rewarding the winner of the scavenger hunt (the one who finds the most items) with the fun responsibility of choosing next week’s family fitness activity.

If you don’t live near a wooded area, you can have a “city scavenger hunt” by finding various urban items simply by pointing them out as you walk through the city as a family. For instance, you could have your children find a "yield" sign, a parking meter, a bus stop, etc.

2)  Ultimate Frisbee Competition
Take your friendly Frisbee competition to a public park, and it might just turn into a massive competition with new friends and other families. Playing Frisbee involves running, jumping, diving and throwing…great exercise and great fun!

If you get enough people involved, you can enjoy a fierce game of Frisbee football!

3)  Family Fitness Challenges
Once a week, have a fitness contest and award a traveling trophy to the weekly winner. Then, let the winner keep the trophy in his or her room until the next fitness challenge. The kids will love this, and a little friendly competition is a good thing! Need some ideas for events?

  • King or Queen Cruncher: See who can do the most abdominal crunches in a minute.
  • Fabulous Flexibility Award: After stretching out, see who comes closest to touching his/her nose to the floor in a straddled position.
  • Push-up Champ: See who can do the most push-ups in 60 seconds.
  • Plank or Plop: Have everyone get into a plank position, and see who can hold the plank position the longest.
  • Top Jump Roper: See who can jump rope the longest without tripping or stopping.  

4)  Jump, Jump, Jump!
Speaking of jump roping, how long has it been since you jumped rope? Not only is this activity a great workout, but your kids will get a kick out of seeing their parents jumping rope. Let your children teach you some of the jump-rope chants they know, and then teach them some chants from your playground past.

You can also practice counting and memorization while jumping rope. Here’s some more incentive. A 135-pound person will burn approximately 112 calories for every 15 minutes of jumping rope. So, jump it up!

5)  Walk and Talk
Even if your children are very young or not very athletically inclined or too old to participate in the above fitness activities, they can walk alongside you.

Use your family walks to talk with your children about their hopes and dreams or pray with them about their concerns or fears. If they aren’t feeling too talkative, use the time to impart wisdom, quote favorite movie lines to one another, make up stories together, etc.

You can also allow the younger kiddos to push their dolls in strollers. Oh, and don’t forget Fido. He’s a part of the family, too, right?

So, why not spring into fun family fitness? Don’t just tell your kids to “Go outside and play,” join them! Whether you engage in some of the activities mentioned above or simply shoot some hoops with your children, you’ll be making memories and burning calories.

Your body and your children will thank you.

Pray this with me:

Father, I am thankful for the body You’ve given me, and I am asking that You help me in my endeavor to live a healthier lifestyle. And, Lord, please help me to set a good example for my children, encouraging them to be fit in every area of their lives—spiritually, physically and mentally. In the Mighty Name of Your Son Jesus, Amen.

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