Family Fitness

When was the last time you played a game of “Tag, You’re It?”  Remember those days as a child when you could play and run around for hours.  Life was good and laughter was contagious.  Childhood fun and adventure doesn’t have to be a thing of the past, and it shouldn’t be.  Physical exercise, activity and laughter have a beneficial impact on our attention and memory processes throughout our lives and are crucial to helping us avoid the diseases so often associated with the aging process.  These factors are also important to our children’s health.  Research shows that children who exercise on a regular basis score higher on standardized tests, have faster reaction times on behavioral tasks and have fewer cardiac risk factors than less active children.  We should no longer view exercise as a solitary activity, but one which engages the entire family. Being physically active doesn’t have to mean organized sports activities or expensive equipment.  It can be as simple as using our legs, arms, minds and hearts to create and share priceless moments. Below are some excellent ideas on activities we can involve all of our family members in.

  • Run, jog or walk in a family treasure or scavenger hunt.
  • Learn to juggle as a family.
  • Have a hula hoop contest – count the rotations.
  • Jump rope to music or rhymes.
  • Jump on a Pogo stick and count bounces.
  • Organize a family tournament of hopscotch.
  • Play an old fashioned game of “Tag – You’re it!”
  • Wash the cars and play tag with the water from the hose.
  • Share dances from each generation in the family.
  • Make up your own family dance.
  • Take up square dancing, line dancing or clogging.
  • Play “Twister”.
  • Take up bicycle riding.  Keep track of the miles you log and “ride coast to coast” in the country of your choice.  Track the miles on a map, “visit the sites”, and use it as an opportunity to learn about the country you are “visiting”.
  • Go ice skating on a really hot day.
  • Take tennis lessons as a family – host your own tournament.
  • Make your own family exercise video – everyone picks a song and creates a “work-out routine”.
  • Have “fire drills” around the sofa during the commercial breaks while watching TV.
  • Build a pair of stilts and take turns learning how to walk on them.
  • Take up martial arts and work your way up to a black belt as a family.
  • Buy some light dumbbells and set up a small gym in your basement or garage.
  • Take the family pet for a daily walk or jog.  Let the smaller children ride scooters to keep up.
  • Take up indoor rock climbing.  Keep track of your altitude gains and see who can reach the peak of El Capitan first.
  • Investigate local hiking trails and plan Saturday morning brunch on the trail.
  • Go canoeing, kayaking or rafting and give everyone a paddle.
  • Play a “hot potato” game of Frisbee or take up Frisbee golf.
  • Go for long nature hikes and take a sketch book along to capture the beauty and diversity along the way.
  • Instead of desert, institute after dinner family walks.
  • Join your local swimming pool and have relay races.

Besides the physical benefits of exercise, the emotional benefits of time spent together as a family playing and laughing together will be innumerable.  Making the time to improve your health and vitality while creating new family rituals and traditions will not only add years to your life, but most importantly will add life to your years.

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