According to the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, children and adolescents (aged 6-17) should get at least 1 hour or more of physical activity every day and adults should get at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week. Staying active can be a challenge, but summer presents numerous opportunities for you to vary your exercise routine and for your family to stay active together. Making your workouts a family affair can provide extra motivation for you and also set a great fitness example for your kids.
Growing up in Alaska, my dad and I went cross-country skiing together almost every weekend. The experience not only provided us great exercise, but allowed us to bond as a family and create great memories. Now, here in Northern Virginia we don’t normally have enough snow to go skiing every weekend—with the exception of this past winter—but there is an abundance of activities families can do together to stay fit and have fun at the same time.
Here are some ideas that may work for your family:
Take a walk after dinner, do a lap around your neighborhood or find a walking trail near your home.
Play a game such as frisbee, croquet, red rover, hop scotch, capture the flag or dodge ball. Remember how much fun you had playing these as a kid?
Sign up to walk/run a 5K. If your family had a cause or charity that is important to you, find a 5K that supports it as a bonus.
Take a bike ride or have a jump rope or hula hoop contest.
Get your kids involved in organized sports – while they are at practice, you can walk or jog close to the practice field and cheer them on.
Set up an obstacle course in your back yard. There are numerous activities you could do – somersaults, karate kicks, agility ladder or cones, cartwheels, bean bag toss, running through the sprinkler or sliding on a Slip ‘N Slide. Get creative!
Go swimming, or play a game of pool basketball or volleyball.
Have a dance party or go to a local concert and dance there.
Hit the playground; your kids aren’t the only ones that benefit by swinging across the monkey bars.
Go hiking – there are many nature trails and parks around the area that provide scenic surroundings and great exercise.
If you have kid that likes to run, they may enjoy challenging you to a 100 yard dash or more at the track…
Set up a balance beam or trampoline in your back yard.
Get moving and stay active – find any activity that you love to do with your family.
Fitness fun with the family can bring everyone closer together and create great childhood memories, as well as set an example of healthy habits that will carry over into adulthood. While my father still lives in Alaska and I now live in Virginia, we continue our fitness tradition by taking ski vacations together. Start fitness fun with your family—you never know which activity may turn into a long standing tradition.
By Storm Fitness Trainer Sabrina Toatley ACSM Certified Personal Trainer