“I sure wish I had that kind of energy,” you think as a six-year-old flies by in a raucous game of tag. Instead, your regular exercise involves hopping on a treadmill three times a week to trudge through a few miles while you watch the news. How did you get from running until you drop just for the fun of it to being forced to painfully jog a few miles?

 

The key is right there: we’ve lost the fun! Somewhere along the line, exercise became work we had to do rather than entertainment that just happened to be healthful. Getting the whole family involved is a key step in bringing back the enjoyment of moving our bodies and being active. And the best part? It doesn’t have to cost a dime!

 

Try one (or all) of our fun family fitness ideas:

  • Throw a dance party. Dance like nobody’s watching! Except the kids, that is, but they’ll boogie down with you. Put on some fun tunes and sing and dance around the living room to get your heart pumping, and enjoy some smiles no matter the time of day.
  • Turn chores into a challenge. Many kids love a competition, so set a timer (or put on a song or use a commercial break) and dare them to see how much they can pick up or clean in a short amount of time. It may not look perfect, but it’ll be done!
  • Host a neighborhood Olympics. If there’s a group of kiddos in your neighborhood that are around the same age, organize an afternoon of independent competitions. Select a handful of events each kid can complete on their own, such as running a mile and recording the time or seeing how many bean bags they can toss through the hole in a minute, and then have each family enter their stats into an online leaderboard to determine the winners.
  • Take after-dinner walks. Rather than plop down in front of the TV (and maybe even before doing the dishes), head out for a quick evening walk. This is great family bonding time, helps digest dinner and gets out any last wiggles before the kids head to bed.
  • Make time for play. We often schedule time to go to the gym, but what if your exercise time could pull double duty? Throw on your workout clothes so you’ll feel okay about getting sweaty, and then head out to play with the kids (or encourage them to join you in an online video workout!). Whether it’s tag, hide-n-seek or any other make-believe game they come up with, you’ll both benefit from the activity and time together.
  • Walk or bike anywhere you can. It may always be easiest to hop in the car but finding ways to walk or bike to places is a great way to fit in exercise. If most destinations are too far, drive until you’re nearby, then park the car and walk the last part.
  • Go old-school. Some toys like the hula hoop, jump rope and frisbee may have been around for a long time, but they’re also inexpensive and can offer great physical activity. Even better, they can be used in a wide variety of ways, and the skills can often be picked up by young kids too.
  • Set up a scavenger hunt. While going on a hike and heading to the playground are always great options, sometimes you need to change it up a bit. Download a simple scavenger hunt and set off to explore the world around you.