As busy mums (and dads!) it can be hard to squeeze in fitness at the best of times, when you’re giving so much of yourself to your family.
Between looking after preschoolers, chauffeuring older kids, working from home or in an office and trying to manage a household, it’s easy to see how fitness gets pushed out of the priority list.
One great way to tackle this is by turning exercise into a team effort with fun workouts that involve your entire family.
It creates the perfect opportunity to show your kids – no matter their ages – that finding ways to add movement to their day can be enjoyable and easy, and to focus on the positive benefits of working out for their overall wellbeing.
When you hear the term “workout” do you immediately think of sweating it up at the gym? That’s definitely one way to do it, but it’s not the only way!
When looking to involve your family in exercise, the first step is to redefine what you consider working out.
If you think of it more broadly as physical activity that involves movement, the scope suddenly becomes endless.
Invite your fam to a dance off, get them involved in the garden, build an obstacle course or set up a giant treasure hunt and challenge your kids to a race. These are all great workouts that will get you – and them – moving your bodies.
Get creative and move!
Brainstorm with your family and get creative: what do your kids enjoy? What will they happily get involved in?
Obviously this will depend on the age of your children, but the older they are, the more you should try and get their input.
Even if you have a range of ages in your household, there are still lots of fun activities you can do together. Here’s a few suggestions to help you out.
Bike riding is a great cardiovascular workout that caters to families with broad age ranges. Whether you’ve got little ones on a rear seat, preschoolers with training wheels or older kids on mountain bikes, try checking out a new area every weekend to make the experience more fun.
Getting out in nature by riding near a beach, park or river can be a welcome mental-health boost for your family after a busy week at work or school.
Every clever parent with a backyard or garden needs to get in on this one. Bring out your kids’ competitive spirit; think most weeds picked out, largest leaf pile swept, number of flowers or bushes planted… T
each teenagers to mow the lawn. This is a great way to break a sweat, spend time together and have a visible result to show for their efforts.
Did you ever do orienteering at school camp? Geocaching brings the concept into the 21st Century, using an app to hunt down carefully hidden “caches” by tracking coordinates and solving clues.
There are thousands of caches all over the world hidden by enthusiasts that can be found in almost any setting – from the middle of cities to remote bushland.
Your kids will love the thrill of the chase and the satisfaction of uncovering hard-to-find hiding spots.
Do you live near a beach? Beach cricket is a fun way to develop hand-eye coordination skills, get your heart pumping and soak in some sunshine and sea air.
Grab a soft touch bat and ball and some wickets and you can pretend you’re playing the Ashes.
Whether you’re scoring runs or fielding (and trying to avoid the ball going in the drink!), beach cricket is guaranteed family fun for all ages.
Set up an obstacle course, invite friends and family, and host your own Mini Olympics. Old-school three-legged or egg and spoon races, hopscotch, jump rope and “hot potato” (set up stools, or other things to stand on and jump from A to B) are all fun games that will have the whole family laughing, while also bringing out their competitive spirit.
Low impact activities count
There’s a reason yoga and meditation are being included in early childhood and school programs.
Teaching your kids mindfulness is a great way to help them manage their emotions when adversity strikes.
There are tons of videos out there with basic yoga moves for kids. Spreading out yoga mats and enjoying a family yoga or meditation session is a great activity for instilling some calm on a rainy day.
Set yourselves a challenge
An important part of making movement a part of your family’s lifestyle is to keep it consistent and incorporate some form of physical activity into every weekend and school holiday.
To keep your momentum going, try planning this out in advance so your kids know what to expect and have an incentive to keep it going. Some ideas to make this fun for your kids:
- Write a list of activities at the start of the year, cut them out, put them in a pot and draw one at random every weekend.
- Create a challenge chart and aim to tick off a certain number of weekends by the end of the year.
- Devise a family Olympics and award “medals” to those who participate in the most events, or run a points system for older children.
Whatever you do, make it fun
The best way to encourage whole-family participation in movement and exercise? Making it fun for every member of the family.
Choose activities you know both the adults and kids will enjoy, and rather than feeling like a drag, you’ll find it easy to get everyone involved.
Boosting your kids’ activity levels and showing them that exercise can be creative and varied and have a beneficial effect on their wellbeing is the best way to get them to buy in.
The last few years have shown us the value of family time – choosing to spend that time being active will have a positive and lasting impact for you and your loved ones. The best part? You can ditch the gym!