Not enough time for exercise and family? Kill two birds with one stone and turn family fitness into quality family time.
Family life can get extremely busy. You barely have time for exercise, let alone quality family time. So why not do both?
You can easily turn your family fitness goals into family time with these tips.
Why Exercise Is the Perfect Time for Family Time
Everyone knows that exercise is good for mental and physical health. However, it also fosters a positive, healthy environment where you can easily bond with your family. It promotes teamwork, communication, and lifelong habits that unite individuals and make for happier families.
Here’s why you’ll want to make exercise time family time:
- Regular physical activity with your family promotes a healthy lifestyle for everyone.
- Exercising together provides an opportunity for quality bonding time.
- Exercising together allows family members to share experiences and achievements, support each other, and create memories.
- Family members learn to communicate, collaborate, and support each other no matter the type of exercise.
- Family fitness helps establish healthy habits from a young age, when children are more likely to carry those habits into adulthood.
- Participating in physical activities together can provide a positive outlet for stress relief and contribute to a more relaxed and harmonious family atmosphere.
- Children are more likely to adopt healthy habits when they see their parents actively participating in physical activities.
- Physical activities provide a relaxed setting for open communication and discussions.
- Choosing a variety of activities and incorporating games or challenges can make it fun for the whole family, keeping everyone entertained.
- Encouraging each other, celebrating achievements together, and working towards common fitness goals can boost motivation for everyone involved.
How to Make Fitness Fun for Everyone
While the idea of exercising as a family is great, sometimes the execution can use a little improvement. If your family never wants to join you, maybe it’s time to create a little motivation and a sense of family togetherness.
Follow these tips to make family fitness your family’s favorite pastime:
1. Create a Family Fitness Challenge
Competitiveness can be a huge motivator for a lot of families. (The healthy kind of competitiveness, of course.) If you haven’t already set family fitness goals for the new year, set up a friendly competition or challenge that encourages everyone to participate. This could be a step challenge, a mini-triathlon, or any other activity that promotes teamwork and motivation. But everyone has to agree!
2. Choose Family-Friendly Activities
Another motivation killer is not liking the fitness activity. If you try to push someone with bad knees to run a marathon, well, you’ll probably find them resting their legs in their favorite chair. Instead, opt for activities that are suitable for all family members, taking into account varying fitness levels and interests.
3. Incorporate Games
You’ll never convince someone who finds walking boring to go outside with you. If that sounds familiar, turn the family fitness into a game. For example, organize a scavenger hunt while hiking, play tag, or create a relay race. Games add an element of fun and competition that can make the workout feel less like a chore.
4. Make It a Routine
Taco Tuesday and Waffle Wednesday make the week far more enjoyable. The same can be said for Football Friday and Soccer Saturday. Establish a regular exercise routine that fits into your family’s schedule. This consistency helps create a habit, and it becomes something to look forward to rather than an occasional activity.
5. Include Everyone
This seems like a given, but even so, make extra effort to ensure that each family member has a role and feels included. If they don’t, their motivation to participate will drop considerably, and you can wave goodbye to family fitness Friday. If you start noticing some negative feelings or temper tantrums, consider alternating who chooses the activity each time or allow each person to lead a warm-up or cool-down session.
6. Try Fitness Classes Together
If the regular old fitness activities are getting a little boring, try group fitness classes together. Many classes cater to various fitness levels and age groups. Classes like yoga, Zumba, or family-friendly fitness classes can be enjoyable for everyone.
7. Explore Nature
Yeah, a lot of fitness activities happen outside, but next time your family drags their feet, take it outside of your backyard. Go for family hikes, nature walks, or even camping trips. Nature provides a beautiful backdrop and adds an extra element of adventure to routine physical activity.
8. Use Technology
Kids these days are glued to their phones and gaming consoles, so instead of fighting it, try using it. Incorporate technology by using fitness apps or video games that encourage physical activity. There are numerous interactive games and apps designed for families to exercise together.
9. Create a Reward System
And finally, the true key to motivation: the reward. Implement a reward system for achieving fitness goals as a family. This could be a small treat, a movie night, or any other incentive that motivates everyone to stay active. You can keep track of your accomplishments on your fridge, with a glass jar, or through any other creative means that you can come up with together. But the most important part is creating big and small milestones that you can celebrate.
10. Prioritize Communication and Bonding
If you really want to get the most family time out of your fitness time, be attentive to everyone’s feelings. Encourage open communication, positive feedback, and active listening. Walking, jogging, or stretching together provides a relaxed setting conducive to open communication. Discuss each other’s days, share thoughts, and use the time to connect on a personal level.
The Best Family Exercises for Bonding
Now that we’ve covered the basics, what exercises or sports should you choose to get started on your family fitness journey? Great question; I’d love to tell you. These activities are perfect for families at any fitness level if they want to turn exercise into quality family time:
The Walk and Talk
After dinner, go for regular family walks in your neighborhood or a nearby park. It’s an excellent way to promote digestion and better sleep, enjoy each other’s company, have conversations, and get some fresh air.
Explore local bike trails or go on family biking adventures. Biking is not only a great cardiovascular exercise but also a fun way to cover more ground and discover new places together. And if you go slow enough, you can talk the whole time. (If you can’t stop your kids from pedaling as fast as they can, just talk when they tire out and take a break.)
Plan family hikes in nature reserves, national parks, or local trails. Hiking provides a low-impact full-body workout, you can go as slow as you want, and you can enjoy the beauty of nature as a family. (Just remember to create a scavenger hunt if your family gets bored easily.)
Engage in classic outdoor games like soccer, basketball, or frisbee. These activities not only promote physical fitness but also encourage friendly competition and teamwork. And if you’re playing them with your family, you can bend as many rules as you want.
Family Yoga or Stretching Sessions
Practice yoga or stretching exercises together. You can follow online videos or attend a local family-friendly yoga class. It’s a great way to improve flexibility, balance, and mindfulness as a family.
Turn up the music and have dance parties at home. Dancing is a fun and energetic way to get your heart rate up, and it’s an activity that everyone can participate in, regardless of age or fitness level.
Backyard Obstacle Course
Set up a simple obstacle course in your backyard. Use cones, hula hoops, and other items to create challenges for the entire family. You can make teams and have one member guide another through the course backwards and blindfolded. Or you can have them try to navigate it with tricycles, bikes, or remote-controlled cars. It’s a creative and entertaining way to stay active.
Family Swim Time
If you have access to a pool, plan regular family swim sessions. Swimming is a low-impact, full-body workout, and it’s an enjoyable way to cool off in warmer weather. But if it’s colder, you probably want to find a heated pool. Or turn it into a polar bear plunge, or an ice bath, where the whole family gets a reward at the end.
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Shaelyn Topolovec earned a BA in editing and publishing from BYU, worked on several online publications, and joined the Familius family. Shae is currently an editor and copywriter who lives in California’s Central Valley.