Family Fun Fitness
Try a few "disorganized" sports to bring your family closer together.
As parents, we want our kids to stay active. Whether they join teams to play football, soccer, track, or lacrosse, kids participate in tons of extracurricular activities that help them learn teamwork, dedication, and hard work. Sports also help our children reach the CDC-recommended "60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) daily". Organized activities provide fitness opportunities for adults who also rely on organized sports, gyms, and other fitness centers to provide, coordinate, and run sports, classes, and equipment. Most of the time, these methods allow busy families to schedule activities and fitness.
As luck would have it, though, life circumstances (like the ones we're currently experiencing) sometimes block your ability to engage in organized activities. While time or circumstances impact and decrease your ability to be active, they don't reduce the need to be physically active. In fact, it's well documented that physical activity helps reduce stress and improve mood -- especially when life takes an unexpected twist. To add insult to injury, if you're unable to get to your gym, you're likely already exhausted (physically, mentally, or both!) and coming up with alternate activities might leave you feeling even more burned out. Add in some squirmy and energetic kids, and the walls of the house begin to squeeze in around you.
Fortunately, you're not alone in feeling swallowed by the excess energy emitted by your children (and maybe your spouse or other loved ones!). Before you lose your mind, consider losing your definition of "activity." Physical activity doesn't have to be organized or structured to provide benefit or enjoyment. Try thinking outside the box and add one of these nine ideas to your list of activities to do when your options are limited.
1. Obstacle courses:
You're never too old for an obstacle course. Make one that's age appropriate and manageable for all members of your family. Use sports equipment, like basketballs and footballs, jump ropes, bean bags, and even things around the house (like cardboard and duct tape!) to create each activity. Add a degree of difficulty by timing each family member. Create a fun "trophy" for the winner!
2. Yard work:
If the weather is nice enough to be outside, enlist the whole family to help clean up the yard. Younger kids can pick up sticks, leaves, and pinecones; older kids can rake, plant flowers or seeds, or pick weeds. Bonus? At the end of it all, you'll have a beautiful and clean area to play!
Old fashioned games, like hopscotch and four square, are the perfect addition to your family's list of activities. Grab some outdoor chalk and make the markings on your driveway. Too wet or cold to take this outside? Find some painter's tape or masking tape and create a grid on the floor.
Depending on the ages of your family members, explore different types of yoga to while away the hours! For the youngest in your household, find postures that resemble animals (add noises for extra effect!). Older elementary-aged kids and tweens often enjoy partner yoga, so try a back-to-back chair squat or a seated wide-legged forward fold and take turns folding back and forth. Teenage children and older might really enjoy leading you in their favorite sequence, so be open to trying new things!
Remember how fun this was when you were younger? Turn on some calypso music and take turns seeing how low you can go!
6. Dance Party
Whatever tunes get you moving, turn 'em up and get your groove on! You might not even realize it, but you're burning some serious calories while you twist and shout. in fact, someone who weighs 150lbs will burn about 400 calories an hour dancing. Fortunately, you don't need to possess the talents of J-Lo or Shakira to derive benefit from dancing, so leave your inhibitions on the couch and jump up, jump up, and get down.
7. Relay Races
If you have older children who need to get moving, consider going for a family jog with a bit of added fun. The person in the front of the line starts with a baton (which could be as simple as a stick but could get as creative as you'd like!). At the start of the run, the first person holds the baton hands it to the person running behind them. Continue handing the baton back from person to person until it reaches the last person. The person at the end receives the baton and sprints to the front of the line and the process starts over again. Take as little or as much time as you'd like to move the baton to the back! Whoever ends up with the baton at the end of the run wins the booby prize!
8. Climb a famous building:
Well, virtually anyway. Challenge your family to count the number of stairs they climb in a day and see if you can conquer the tallest buildings or structures in the world. Start with the Statue of Liberty (350 stairs) or the Washington Monument (825 stairs), then move on to the Eiffel Tower (1,600 stairs), the Sears Tower (2,100 stairs), or the Burj Khalifa (4,875 stairs). Feeling very adventurous? Consider [virtually] hiking the Grand Canyon (7,950 stairs) or Pikes Peak (21,000 stairs).
9. Challenge other families
If competition gets your family moving, consider sending a challenge to another family. Use the Activity App that comes with iPhones or another one from the App store, like Movetivate, which allows you to send challenges to other people with timeframes to complete them.