Picture of a dad and baby girl dancing

Get Moving With Your Family

Engaging your kids in a health-promoting lifestyle can be a fun way to enjoy time with your family!

The more you move, the better off you are! It doesn’t matter how wacky your antics, if you are moving and having fun, you’re getting in shape. It’s that simple.

Go on a treasure hunt

Here’s a great way to keep the family fit and teach your kids about trust, teamwork, and problem solving at the same time. Take them to a local park and set an expedition course on a map, circling various “checkpoints.” Take turns navigating to each point on the map and leading the team to each destination. Sound too complicated? Then merely go hunting for bugs, animals, or flowers. You can’t entertain a young kid much better than finding a colorful salamander under a log or rock.

Plan 10-minute spurts of activity

Follow spurts of activity with 5-minute rest periods. Don’t force your adult exercise program on your children. That’s a recipe for disaster. Instead, take advantage of their natural tendency to participate in intermittent and sporadic play and exercise bouts. A game of tag is a perfect example. Children’s bodies are designed to sprint and rest, sprint and rest. Because they are easily distracted and incapable of long periods of focused activity, they will resist long exercise sessions that don’t include rest periods.

Train for school fitness tests as a family

Learn which fitness tests or activities your child is doing in physical education class and train for them as a family. Set goals, such as running a quarter-mile and then a half and then a full mile in a certain amount of time — and reward each family member for meeting each goal.

Play follow the leader with one or more children

Line up single file and weave your way through the house or backyard. Every few steps, hop, skip, do the grapevine or some other movement that your followers must imitate. Once the kids get the hang of the game, let them take turns as leader. Their naturally creative minds will come up with all sorts of fun movements for the followers to imitate. You’ll be out of breath before you know it.

Give your child a head start — and race around the house

You can do the same with calisthenics. You do 10 crunches, and your child does 5. See who can complete them first.

Spend an hour doing yard work together

Raking leaves, pulling weeds, shoveling snow, and spreading out mulch all help to build strength and endurance. Plus, when your kids help, it doesn’t take as long or seem as much of a chore (depending on the age of the child, of course). There are numerous ways to make yard work more fun for kids. For instance, when you finish raking a pile of leaves, you get to jump in them.

Wash the car together

The scrubbing is good exercise, but everyone getting wet and soapy is just plain fun for kids.

Give your kids a list of indoor chores — then join them

Younger children often like to feel helpful and will enjoy helping you with household chores. Ask them to help you make the beds, fold the laundry and put it away, set the table, and put dishes in the dishwasher — all physical activities that can help get your heart rate up, stretch your body, and build your muscles.

Take a hike

Grab a backpack, plenty of water, and a light lunch and head to a local trail for a hiking expedition. Wear hiking boots for rocky terrain or sneakers for smoother trails, and pack sunscreen and insect repellent. To make this more fun for kids, make it about something else, such as looking for a particular animal or bird, climbing to see a lake or pond, or seeing how many rocks you can scamper over without touching the ground. Kids like hiking much better when they don’t realize it’s about hiking! Bring a picnic; of course, this is a great opportunity to share a delicious but healthful meal and cultivate good family eating habits.

Dance during commercial breaks

Make it a family rule that whenever you watch television, you have to stand up and dance around during the commercials. This goes for everyone! Whoever gets caught sitting on the couch during a commercial break must perform his or her least-liked household chore for one week.

How do you get moving with your family? Share your ideas in the comments.

Aida Byrne

Aida Byrne is originally from the Utica area and now lives in Central New York with her blended family of seven - six sons and one daughter. She and her husband, Tim, enjoy traveling to new states with their kids each season in their 12-passenger van; volunteering throughout the year for the Chittenango Central School District; and spending time making memories with friends and family each and every weekend. Aida is the director of communications for the eastern markets at Excellus BlueCross BlueShield.
Aida Byrne

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