As a parent, it’s your job to encourage your kids to be active. Not only will exercise help them burn off excess energy and sleep well, making fitness a part of your child’s life will encourage healthy habits as they grow older. So why sit on the park bench as a spectator while they have all the fun?
When exercise feels like play, the whole family can have fun together. Here are seven ways to get the whole family moving this summer…
1. Walk Wherever You Can
Instead of climbing into the car to drive for 10-minutes, use your feet to get there. Whether you’re going to drop the kids off at a playdate, get groceries, or borrow a book from the library, if it’s in walking distance, lace up your shoes and go.
A great way to encourage kids to walk is to track their steps with a pedometer or a fitness tracker. Set a weekly step goal and work towards adding more steps every week throughout the summer. You can even track their progress on a chart on the refrigerator to show them how they’ve improved.
2. Dance While You Clean
Most people don’t like to clean, but it’s a chore that must be done. So why not make it fun by turning on some great music and dancing while you clean? Not only will you be encouraging your kids to tidy up, you’ll be able to laugh and giggle as you dance around the kitchen with a mop in hand.
You can also play follow-the-leader to encourage your kids to put away the laundry, organize the toys, and clean up their rooms. By adding a few extra trips up and down the stairs and around the house, you’ll be adding steps to your daily count.
3. Play at the Play Ground
Remember how much fun you had at the playground when you were a kid? When visiting the local park with your children, there’s no reason why you need to sit on the bench and watch. Do yourself a favor and put your phone down and go play—it’s called a playground after all.
Monkey bars, swings, teeter-totters, and most climbers can be adult-friendly, but you may want to avoid the twisty, tunnel slide in case you get stuck. If you’re worried about what other parents think, don’t be. They may even join in when they see how much fun you and your kids are having at the park.
4. Use Peddle Power
Kids love bike rides, but the secret to a great family bike ride is finding off-road cycling paths where kids can peddle carefree and parents can relax and enjoy themselves without worrying about motorized traffic. Most towns and cities have paved or manicured bike trails that are a great place to spend an afternoon.
Before you get started, make sure you go over safety and biking rules and that everyone, including parents wear a helmet. Make sure to set an appropriate pace that everyone can maintain or have one parent stay with the younger children with training wheels, while the another parent rides with the older kids.
5. Plan an Active Family Activity Every Weekend
The summer is a great time to get outside and go explore local parks and conservation areas. Every weekend you can choose a different destination or explore a new trail at your favorite hiking place.
Bring a backpack with a magnifying glass and notebook with colored pencil crayons. As you find plants and animals along the way, you can stop and inspect them more closely by having the kids draw what they see. And don’t forget healthy snacks like fruit, veggies and nuts, and plenty of water for you and the kids.
Whether you skip to your own beat or chant a classic jump rope rhyme, jumping rope is a great calorie-burner and a popular childhood activity. Chances are your kids already have skipping ropes, so why not skip with them? If you don’t already have your own, they’re quite inexpensive to buy and available at most sporting good retailers.
Did you know that skipping has been proved to burn more calories compared to running? It also improves coordination, agility, balance, and footwork. There’s a reason why professional athletes skip as part of their training. So grab your rope and start hoping.
7. Set up an Obstacle Course
Tag and hide-and-go-seek are great games to play that can get the heart rate going, but if you’re looking for something a little more challenging, a backyard obstacle course is a great idea. You can use your own exercise equipment and set up different stations.
A Bosu Ball to jump off, a broom to hop over, a yoga ball to roll back and forth, a sturdy chair to jump on and off of, a grassy spot to do sit ups and push up, free weights to do bicep curls (light weights for the kids and heavier weights for you) and whatever else you can think of. By the time you and the kids have completed the circuit a few times, you’ll have earned a rest.