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While in some families it is the norm to leave the kids at home while mom or dad run out to the gym for a good workout, family fitness can bring you and your children closer together, and be a lot of fun, as well. In your search for family fitness ideas, you might find some of the suggestions below helpful to get you off to a “running” start.
Whether you and your family decide to walk around your home town, or choose a more natural location like the park or a wooded trail, walking and hiking with children of all ages is a great way to get them to realize some of the benefits of physical activity. While walking it’s good to talk with kids about how important exercise is to you. Share with them how you enjoy a long walk in the woods or through the park, because it makes you feel energized, or it helps keep you healthy, and in good physical shape.
Even the youngest children can get into the bicycling act. Babies can ride along in a child carrier, and preschoolers can bring their trikes, or training wheels along. When bicycling with very young children, it’s best to avoid busy streets and opt for a quieter location such as the park or a natural bike trail.
Swimming is great physical exercise, and something families can enjoy together, regardless of how old or young children are. Young children will need life jackets, and all children should be very closely supervised when near or in the water. It can be a lot of fun to swim with little ones – show them how to do the back stroke, the doggy paddle, or the crawl, if you know how.
Tennis is a great sport that encourages both physical activity and helps develop hand eye coordination at the same time. Find a local tennis court and take the family there to play a game of mixed doubles – or have a family tennis tournament.
Kids, especially upper elementary age and teens, love volleyball. This is a great sport to play and one that requires lots of movement. It is enjoyable for everyone.
Whether you choose walking/hiking, swimming, biking, playing tennis, or some other physical activity, here is some good advice for exercising with kids.
- When children are very young plan only a short activity, as young children lose attention and get tired more quickly.
- Make sure to take along extra clothes, shoes, or other items you might need.
- Have snacks available.
- Make sure to bring plenty of fluids to keep children from getting dehydrated.
- Consider items like hats or sun visors, sunglasses and sunscreen, if you will be exercising out of doors.
Stress health and safety to your children, and talk about some of the risks associated with over-doing it (pulled or strained muscles, soreness, or exhaustion, dehydration etc.) while planning a family workout. All in all, it should prove to be a fun time while the whole family is staying in shape.