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Fitness Fun for the Whole Family

Study after study has shown that regular exercise and a healthy diet lowers our chance of developing serious disease later in life.

If you’ve got kids, no doubt you want them to grow up to be fit and healthy adults.

We already know that kids learn by example, so the best way to get them to improve their lifestyle, is to first improve your own.

Martha Lourey-Bird, Exercise scientist and author of “Exercise and the F word…FUN!” states:

There’s no doubt parents are the best role models for their kids, so we need to remember they tend to do as we do, rather than as we say.

If you’re stuck in an unhealthy rut right now, here are a few tips to help you change your lifestyle for the better:

#1 Make health and fitness a priority in your life.
#2 Only bring healthy foods into your home.
#3 Reduce the amount of time you spend watching TV, DVDs, or sitting at the computer.
#4 Exercise regularly, and put lots of energy into all of your daily activities.
#5 Have a positive attitude about healthy eating and physical activity.

How to make working out a family event

Unfortunately with the busyness of life, we seem to spend more and more time away from our families.

However, working out as a family is a brilliant way to boost health, and it’s the perfect opportunity to bond and share special memories together.

We should be aiming for at least 30 minutes of physical activity most days of the week.

What are the benefits of exercise?

  • Increased strength.
  • Increased aerobic fitness.
  • Weight loss, or weight maintenance.
  • Improved bone density.
  • Improved mood, including reduced stress.
  • Increased energy levels.

Activities can range from housework to running 5 miles, here are a number of suggestions:

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  • Walking the dog.
  • Bike rides at the park.
  • Playing catch.
  • Tossing the ball or Frisbee.
  • Playing a game of football (soccer), basketball, netball, or cricket.

Or, for something a little silly that your kids will love:

#1 The backyard blitz

Set up five stations throughout the yard. At each station participants must complete a different task. Here are a few examples:

#1 Skipping.
#2 Handstands.
#3 Hopscotch.
#4 Bounce a ball against the wall using alternate hands.
#5 Lie face down, then roll across the yard and back again.

Spice it up a little by reciting nursery rhymes, singing a song, or answering general knowledge questions at each station (where appropriate).

#2 Pony ride races

Adults get down on all fours and have one child on their back. Race across or around the yard as quickly as possible. If your rider falls off you must return to the starting point and begin again. First to cross finish line wins.

For a more difficult workout, at the half waypoint, stop, unload your rider, then do five push-ups, and race to the finish line with the child on your back again.

#3 Hoola hoops

Place two hoola hoops at one end of the yard and stand at the opposite end. You must race across the yard, step into the hoop and start twirling for 60 seconds. Then jump out of the hoop, and run back to the starting point. Repeat 3 times. If you have enough members divide yourself into teams and compete against each other.

#4 Silly star jumps

Stand with your feet almost touching, hands relaxed by your sides. Jump up and out, landing with your feet slightly wider than hip-width, and then jump back to your starting position. This is a great exercise for toning the lower body. Whoever lasts longest is the winner.

#5 Tug of war

A simple game of tug of war makes for an excellent workout. As you pull on the rope squat down as though you’re about to sit on a chair. This will strengthen your bottom and thighs; also pull your belly in towards your spine, to work your abdominal area.

How do you encourage your family to be more active? I’d love to hear what really works for you!

Material edited from July 2007 edition of Notebook: Ideas for Living.

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CoachMelFitness Fun for the Whole Family

Comments 8

  1. Tom

    It’s important to establish good health practices for children at a young age. The best way to encourage children to be active is to make it fun. It’s kind of like how we are more likely to eat healthy food when it tastes good. These are good ideas, and they can go a long way in helping children stay active and increase the likelihood that they will remain so in the future.

  2. Melanie

    Hi Tom,

    I suppose making activity fun is really the challenge, what works for one family, may not work for another.

    Did you see the new bikes that attach up to a computer game which is viewed on the TV screen? I think they’re by Fisher Price, kids have to cycle to gain points and play the game etc.

  3. Tom

    I haven’t seen those bikes before, but they sound interesting. It’s a good sign that there are attempts to help children exercise at an early age, and make it entertaining while doing so.

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