Getting Fit as a Family: Strategies to Exercise Together

Walking in the woods
6/2/2015

You’ve read the headlines, and you’re fully aware that as Americans, our children have a higher rate of obesity. The best way to get your children active is to be active yourself. Be a role model.

Many adults think that once children enter the picture, there just isn’t time for your daily exercises. But the truth is that problem is eliminated when you exercise together. Families can get fit and create a stronger bond when engaging in regular physical activity together:

  • Make an after-dinner walk part of your routine. If you have very little ones, put them in the stroller. Take this time for everyone to check in and talk about their day. You get quality time together—even if you only have 15 minutes—and you’ll be active each day.
  • Take your dog for a longer walk once a week. Don’t have a pooch? Lots of humane societies, animal shelters, and Leader Dogs for the Blind locations are always in need of dog walkers. You’ll be volunteering, getting exercise, and receiving some puppy therapy!
  • If you’re a family who loves TV time, make commercial breaks an active time to counteract all the time spent on the couch. If you have small kids in your family, it can be fun to play “drill sergeant” or “follow the leader” where one person directs the activity for the length of the break. Each commercial break, switch leaders.
  • You can also make movie night active! Create a rule for something that is likely to happen frequently in the movie. Watching your favorite Harry Potter film? Do 5 jumping jacks every time someone performs a spell. Watching one you haven’t seen yet? Try something more predictable such as every time the main character says “I” do 2 squats. It’s fun and interactive, and can keep your from snoozing half way through. Of course it’s fair enough to reserve the last half hour for relaxing and enjoying the climax and resolution of the story.
  • Get outdoors and make yard work a family affair. Kids are very capable of helping to pull weeds, plant seeds, rake leaves, and shovel. Teenagers can even help by mowing. Include a reward for a job well done such as jumping into the pile of leaves, having a snowball fight, or playing on the swing set.
  • Make getting there part of the fun. If the family activity is to go get ice cream or rent a movie, try walking or biking there as a family instead.
  • Push back the furniture, turn up the jams, and have a dance party. It’s a great way to get moving, and small children will see it as a special treat. Take turns picking songs, bring in fun lights, challenge each other’s moves, and incorporate anything to fun to keep the energy flowing.
  • Schedule a block of time every week that is dedicated to a group, physical activity. Take turns deciding the activity. It doesn’t have to be a trip to the gym—there are lots of physical activities that are a lot of fun including bike rides, hikes, family yoga classes, Frisbee at the park, beach volleyball, bowling, and more.
  • For families with older kids and teenagers, you can have a fitness challenge. Each person can wear a pedometer and keep track of steps taken. At the end of the week, the person who has walked the farthest gets to pick the next family activity!

The idea is to work in some physical activity to the things you already enjoy doing. Exercising doesn’t have to mean lifting weights and running on the treadmill. Make it fun and age-appropriate, and you’ll be well on your way to a healthier lifestyle.

At Tennessee Fitness Spa, we are offering two special weeks this summer called “Get Fit with the Family.” With a parent or guardian, children 10 years and older can participate in our activities as you learn together how to get moving. These special weeks take place July 5 – July 12 and August 9 – August 16. To sign up or learn more details, give us a call at 800-235-8365.

Tags: Family Fitness