Incorporating family workouts into your weight loss journey is a fun way to mix up your daily fitness routine.
Whether losing weight, training for a race, starting a new eating plan, or learning to deal with a chronic disease, the support, and involvement of your family makes a huge difference.
One of the biggest lifestyle changes we make is to start exercising regularly. Like any new habit, it takes time to develop, but eventually, workouts can (and should!) become part of your daily routine.
This summer, take advantage of some of these fun ways to exercise with kids and make family fitness the norm in your household and in your life!
Family Fitness for Parents of Little Ones
Finding time to exercise is hard enough with all the demands of modern life, but adding a little kid (or kids) can make it seem nearly impossible.
Sometimes it feels like a minor miracle to manage even ten minutes of self-care when you’re a new parent.
Understandably then, parents with young children often struggle to develop fitness routines. One of the best ways to make regular exercise more attainable is to include your kids in the workout!
Little ones naturally have tons of energy and love moving around, so harness that energy and work out together.
Not only will this help instill the importance of fitness in your children from a young age (it’s never too early, right?), but it also gives you the opportunity to care for yourself while also caring for your kids.
Here are some more specific suggestions.
Play together at the park
The playground isn’t just for kids anymore! When you venture out to the park this summer, seize the opportunity to get your workout in while the youngsters play.
Play tag with your kids, get in a few lunges in the grass, do tricep dips on a bench, run up and down the play structure after your kids, or try hanging from the monkey bars.
Even offering to push the kids on the swings can turn into an arm workout pretty quickly. Do whatever gets your blood pumping while still enjoying playtime and keeping an eye on the little ones!
Make your kid(s) your workout buddy
Finding time alone to exercise can be near impossible, so instead, plan to make your kids a part of your workout.
If your children are still small, carry them for extra weight during bodyweight exercises. You can do lunges or squats with your baby or toddler on your back (or in your arms) or crunches with your child “holding” your feet down.
If your kid is a little older, they might think it’s a fun game to try and copy you in your exercises. Take it a step further by teaching them the names of exercises, and then take turns playing Simon Says with workout moves!
As any caretaker can tell you, picking up kids repeatedly is also a great arm workout.
Engage your muscles to pick up and put down your child a few extra times in a row to maximize this activity as an at-home workout. Your kid will think it’s a fun game, and you’ll have the chance to build those muscles.
Give the stroller (or bikes) some love
Go for a walk with your kids! Some of the best workouts are those we don’t think of as workouts at all. Plan a few nights a week to enjoy a morning or evening outing with the family.
Take a stroller, or get your kids on their bikes or scooters, and set out around the neighborhood or local park.
This is the perfect type of activity to start teaching kids about the importance (and joy!) of exercising from a young age. It’s also a great time to spend some technology-free time talking about your days and escaping the usual craziness.
If your kids are a little older, consider taking a short bike ride as a family. Regardless of the activity, these little excursions allow you to enjoy quality time together while also getting in your workout for the day!
Split up your workouts
Sometimes it’s feasible to take a leisurely stroll with your family, but sometimes life is just too busy even to consider that kind of time commitment.
If your schedule is looking a little crazy right now, try splitting up your workouts into shorter five- or ten-minute bursts of activity.
When you have a second between meetings, a moment before the kids wake up, or a few minutes while dinner is cooking, squeeze in some cardio or strength training.
Aim for high-intensity activities to maximize these short periods of time. Try jumping jacks, jump rope (with or without the actual rope), squats, lunges, push-ups, or tricep dips.
If you’re shopping, do a few bicep curls with the bags before putting them down. If you’re watching TV with your kids, make it the norm to get up and dance or do jumping jacks during commercial breaks.
Workouts don’t need to be anything official – anything that gets your blood pumping and helps increase your fitness counts and helps.
Family Fitness for Families with Older Kids
Whether you’re a parent of older kids or an adult child, staying fit with your family can be both super fun and highly rewarding!
Even more than families with younger kids, older children can participate in fitness and push you further towards your fitness goals. Try some of these ideas to get the whole family moving together!
Make chores into workouts
Make chores that you should do anyway into workouts. If your kids are old enough to help with chores, both you and your family can make these everyday tasks into a fun workout with some of the tips below.
- Cleaning clutter: When you pick something up off the floor, squat down (with your back straight) instead of bending to grab it.
- Vacuuming: Push the machine forward and back by lunging instead of walking.
- Laundry: While loading or unloading the washing machine, engage your core to twist and lift items from one location to another. This same core workout works for folding laundry or putting toys away in a chest or drawer.
- Unloading groceries: If you’re unloading groceries from the car, do a few bicep curls with the bags (or milk jug if the bags are a little too heavy). If you’re feeling ambitious, try carrying them all the way with your arms bent at 90-degree angles instead of extending straight to work your biceps.
If you’re the competitive type, race against the clock – by yourself or with other family members. Have a contest to see who can pick weeds from the garden, fold laundry or vacuum the house the fastest and most thoroughly.
Have dance parties (or game nights)
Turn on some fun music and get the whole family dancing.
Top 40, country, rap, pop, throwbacks… doesn’t matter – pick whatever gets you moving! Take turns letting each family member pick a few songs and encourage everyone to dance (and sing?) along with the music.
If dancing isn’t so much your family’s thing, organize a family game night and play lawn games instead of board games. A quick game of soccer, football, capture the flag, badminton, or frisbee can really get you moving.
These are especially fun if you have a little bigger family (or lots of social neighbors) and want to get everyone involved!
The wonderful weather of summer nights makes these outdoor games especially enjoyable in most parts of the country.
Sign-up for a race together
The summer and fall seasons bring many opportunities to sign-up for a race together.
One of the best parts about signing up for a race together is that you will all have a goal to move towards together. Whether it’s a one-mile run/walk, 5K, or 10K, you’ll have the opportunity to train together.
A family race can be a great bonding experience and something to be proud of when you reach your goal distance. The other benefit of signing up for a race together is that each person can go at their own pace and strive towards their own goal, but with everyone in the same place.
A quick Google search or visit to an active website like Runner’s World is usually enough to find and sign-up for an awesome race near you.
Make exercise into a competition
Finally, make exercise into a competition!
Some of us are all about the fun and games, while others like a little more competition to stay motivated.
If you love competition, consider starting a poster or whiteboard that tracks different family members’ workout achievements. For example, create a chart of thirty days.
Track the number of minutes each family member exercises daily (or days per week that he/she works out). Establish a non-food prize for the winner at the end of the month.
Some fun ideas for prizes may be a new toy for the kids, movie tickets for teens, or new clothes for mom or dad. Alternatively, pick a specific activity – like hula-hooping – and have a contest to see who can keep going for the longest.
How do you stay fit with your family? Share with us in the comments section below!