Let’s face it: exercise and fitness get a bad wrap. For many people the words “fitness” and “fun” are never found together in the same sentence unless the word “not” is between them. We get stuck inside a box thinking that you have to be athletically inclined in order to be fit and that can leave people feeling defeated and discouraged before they ever even start exercising.
Unfortunately, without even realizing it, we often pass this same distaste for working out onto our children. I really don’t want to do that with my kids. I don’t want my children to hate being active, but if I demonstrate that the only way to get in shape and be fit is by going to the gym 5 days a week, then I’m sending the wrong message. I want them to know that as long as you get your heart rate up, get your body moving, and get a little bit out of breath, then that's exercise! It comes in all forms.
Don’t get me wrong, I actually love going to the gym to get my sweat on and to get a break from the kids (yes, I’m admitting it), but I want them to know that there are also so many other ways to be active, healthy, and fit. We regularly go hiking with our kids and make it a point to get outside to a playground on a regular basis. In fact, some of my best exercise has actually happened while playing with my kids.
Below, I’ve shared two easy ways that any family can get fit together and it doesn’t require a fancy gym membership or a treadmill.
1. Create an obstacle course and see who can complete it the fastest.
This is one of my favorite activities to do with my kids at the playground. Really, it can be done in your own backyard or just about anywhere, but the playground already provides the equipment so it’s super easy. Plus, I love seeing my kids get creative the the course they “design”. Then, time each other going through it and see who did it the fastest!
2. Play Tag!
Or, as my kids call it, “mommy monster”! They absolutely love playing this, especially at the playground because they can hide inside the slides and tunnels. It used to be a cute way to make them think they were outrunning me, but now it’s a full on workout trying to catch my 6-year-old. I end up sprinting all over the place trying to catch him.
Even when I catch the younger ones, it’s still a workout carrying them back to “jail” from wherever I caught them. My 5-year-old turns into a sack of potatoes, making it all the harder to carry her.
These games are so easy, simple, and fun. The only “special equipment” required for this exercise are my children. The best part about it all is that I’m spending some real quality time with them, we’re smiling, and in the end we are all a little healthier for it!
This post comes from the TODAY Parenting Team community, where all members are welcome to post and discuss parenting solutions. Learn more and join us! Because we're all in this together.