Fun and Fitness for the Whole Family

Strengthen bonds and improve your family’s fitness with these heart-pumping activities.

Family activities focused on fitness don’t require rigorous planning, and there are often remarkably affordable (if not free!) and build lifelong memories. Here’s the icing on the cake. Family activities, says the American College of Pediatricians, improves everyone’s physical health and delivers mental and emotional benefits, too. For example, research says that quality time as a family may also help create trust and open pathways for difficult conversations.

Below are five winning family activities that get the heart pumping.

1. Make a moving effort for charity. A family jog or walk is a great way to stay active, but let’s be real. Not everyone loves buzzing along a trail or running in circles at the park. So, give this healthy activity a twist. Head to a search engine and type in “charity walk” and your city name. The results will link to a slew of remarkably important charities. And remember, signing up for a charity run delivers additional benefits. There’s extra exercise time to train, family time to learn about the chosen charity and the value of a shared family commitment.

2. Get off to a clean start. While it may be tough to get your little ones and teens to clean their bedrooms, you’ll likely find it much easier to get the family involved in a neighborhood cleanup project. Make it even easier by inviting your kiddos’ friends! Type into your search engine “community cleanup groups” and your city’s name. You can filter results by miles from your home, and pick from a range of environments, such as beaches, parks, rivers, athletic fields and general community areas.

3. Think old school style. Teens today love throwback fashion. Go with the flow and test out a few retired games known to get the heart pumping. Think Twister! You probably have it in your attic or basement, and if not, it’s still for sale in your favorite toy store. How about an old-fashioned water balloon fight, water balloon basketball or egg toss? Pull out those physical family games that fell out of favor 20 years ago and you may become the “cool parent.”

4. Go high-tech. You already know about wearable fitness technology. Trackers are available at a variety of price points, and many of these novel gadgets track heart rate, steps taken, sleep patterns, blood pressure, calories consumed, calories burned and more. What’s more, they do give you a way to initiate family contests. Contests can ignite enthusiasm to exercise more. A study conducted at Kansas State University tested whether individuals engage in more intense physical activity when alone, with a virtual partner or competing against a teammate. Results show that those who exercise with a teammate increased their workout time and intensity by as much as 200 percent. Name a family member a teammate, whether it’s a brother, sister, mother, father or your favorite furry friend! 

With a fitness device, it’s easy for family members to monitor their pulse before, during and after activities and if a pulse rate really jumps, it might be an indication that a physician needs to be consulted.

5. All in the family. A growing health club trend is getting the whole family together at the gym. Working out as a family might seem more like fun than exercise, but your muscles and heart rate will say otherwise. Playful adaptations of traditional exercises might include running the track with a kiddo on your back, races that might or might not include a potato sack, competitions of any kind, weighted hula hoops and dance classes. Bring your family plus another family and now team sports, like basketball, are an option.

Perhaps the most important thing to remember when planning family exercise time is to keep it fun and stay open-minded. Large fitness goals aren’t the only way to get in shape. Sometimes it’s better to set reasonable goals that build to achieve the larger goal. If competitions become too serious, switch to something else.

If summer or fall allergies make outdoor activities tough for one family member, head indoors to a community center or health club. If someone’s knees can’t take jogging, try swimming and inline or ice skating, which are easier on joints. If during a family activity someone becomes out of breath or experiences a fall or ankle twist, seek Inova urgent care, open seven days a week.

Now go for it!

Inova can provide care for all members of your family. Call 855-My-Inova (855.694.6682) for a physician referral.

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