All In The Family: 4 exercises to do with your kids

By Melissa Thomas, NASM-CPT, CES, PES; STOTT PILATES® Certified Instructor; Pn1

 

It's that time of year again! The leaves are changing, the days are growing shorter, and "Meet the Teacher” night is on the calendar. With summer winding down, your kids may not play outside all day, but you can still exercise together as a family.

Picking activities your kids enjoy will help them to develop a healthy relationship with their bodies and exercise as they grow and mature. Here are a few ideas to help your kids (and you!) stay active together.

Introduce a daily family walk

Walking is one of the most underrated activities for overall health and fitness. Among other things, a regular walking routine benefits both cardiovascular and pulmonary fitness. Additional benefits include building stronger bones and improving balance. In other words, theres no such thing as "too early” when it comes to adopting a walking habit. If the idea of just walking isn't enticing, you can make your daily family walk more fun by incorporating some games and challenges. Start with the ideas below, and let your imagination run wild!

Challenge #1: Family Scavenger Hunt

Before you go out, have each family member pick something to look for on      your walk: kids playing basketball, a striped cat, a yellow flower, etc. Don't stop your walk until you find every item on your list! You could also break into teams and require a picture of every item. Who can make it home the fastest with their list complete?

Challenge #2: Silly Walk 

If you hear "walking is boring," on your outings, introduce your kids to the Silly Walk! At regular intervals (every fire hydrant, every stop sign, every five trees, etc), ask your kids to pick a different movement pattern. Maybe you skip to the first stop sign, then jog to the next, and side step to the one after that—the possibilities are endless! Kids are creative, and they'll have a blast coming up with some crazy movement patterns. You'll still get the benefits of walking, and probably laugh a lot, too!

Challenge #3: Follow the Leader

Before your walk begins, draw one name from your family out of a hat: this is todays leader! While you're walking, the leader decides which direction your family goes at each intersection. Your kids will appreciate being able to play a part in the decision-making process. Pro tip: make sure you have Google Maps handy just in case!

 

Begin a family mindfulness practice

Teaching kids to connect to their bodies and breath will only benefit them as they grow- especially in our fast-paced and screen-heavy world. Mindfulness can help kids learn to center and to quiet their minds from distractions—its a fabulous activity to begin as a family!

If you don't know where to start, there are many guided meditation apps on the market that have both free and paid options, but most paid apps offer a free trial. You can also find a fair number of mindfulness and meditation videos on YouTube that are appropriate for kids. You may decide that this the perfect way to start or end your day!

Institute a family workout

When I was a kid, one of my favorite activities was to pull out my moms 1980s Jane Fonda workout video and try to follow the exercises along with Jane and all of her leg-warmer-clad friends. We didn't have weights, so my mom gave me cans of soup to use, and I was off to the races! These days, you don't have to own a workout video to break a sweat—there are plenty of kid-friendly free apps and online videos. If you're a member of a gym that has its own app, you may find that there are family workout videos included as part of your membership.

Shake your sillies out

When all else fails, just move! It doesn't have to be planned and scheduled. Blast some music and be spontaneous: your kids will love a fun diversion in the middle of homework or before they brush their teeth. Unexpected bonus: you'll all return to your activities with a fresh perspective and better headspace.

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