Juggling parental duties with weight-loss goals can be a struggle — between all the homework help, sports practice, piles of laundry, and school pickups and drop-offs, finding an hour to work out can seem impossible. Even squeezing in an early morning workout can be a challenge if your little ones are still rising and shining at 6 a.m. (Pass the coffee, please.)
But you don’t have to choose between family time and fitness. There are plenty of ways to stay active with your family — and when you do, everybody benefits from it. According to the American Heart Association, active kids are more likely to have stronger bones, better brain function, better classroom behavior, and a lower long-term risk of diabetes and heart disease.
“When children learn to be active at a young age, it sets a foundation of healthy habits that last a lifetime. Changing a lifestyle as an adult is so much harder,” says Wes Linsley, Personal Trainer and Certified USA Boxing Coach at Alpha Family Fitness. “[Being active] teaches children resilience, and builds confidence on top of social skills.”
Here are a few ways to get moving as a family — on vacation, at home, and during rainy days — so you can spend quality time together and foster healthy habits for your kids. Win-win!
Active Family Vacation Ideas
Turn your next family vacay into an action-packed adventure with these fun family activities.
1. See the sights on a bike tour
A family friendly bike tour is a great way to get some exercise while you see the sights and experience the culture of a far-off destination. Instead of lounging in a beach chair all day, find a scenic coastal bike path. Or take a ride through a historic city, stopping for local treats and souvenirs along the way, of course!
2. Go skiing or snowboarding
Head to the nearest winter wonderland and sign up for skiing or snowboarding lessons. Most resorts offer slopes for all levels — even tiny tots — so the whole family can hone their skills.
3. Take a surf lesson
Not only will you connect with nature, but your kids will be totally wiped out by the end of the lesson. This can be an especially great option for kids with disabilities — research shows surfing can have significant benefits for differently abled children in terms of strength, balance, endurance, and core strength.
4. Take a hike
Your kids will barely realize they’re working up a sweat while they take in the scenic beauty of unfamiliar terrain — especially if they’re learning about it from a trained guide. Many family friendly hiking tours focus on local ecology, natural wonders, and animal sightseeing — an added bonus for your little explorers.
5. Try water skiing
If you’re vacationing near a lake or ocean, take your family out for a water skiing lesson. It’s a decent workout — and a perfect excuse to relax on the boat afterward.
Fun Family Activities to Do at Home
Finding ways to stay active at home is essential, since that’s where you spend most of your time. “The key is doing what everyone enjoys,” Linsley says, so it’s more likely to become a habit that sticks. Here are a few ways to get moving in your own home.
1. Have a dance party
Put on a high-energy playlist and get the whole family grooving. Not only is dancing a great aerobic exercise, but it also allows your kids to creatively express themselves.
2. Send them on a scavenger hunt
Scavenger hunts are known to help kids practice problem-solving skills and learn the value of teamwork. Leave a trail of clues for them to follow — the farther apart you space the clues, the more challenging the scavenger hunt will be!
3. Play catch with the dog
Your pup needs exercise, so why not get the whole family involved? Take turns playing fetch or letting your furry friend chase you around the yard.
4. Turn tidying into a race
Thanks to Marie Kondo, we’re all a little tidying-obsessed right now. Get your kids on board with a little competition — who can tidy up their toys, vacuum the carpets, and put away their laundry the fastest? Not only does it help you out, but it will also teach them responsibility in a fun way. (Be sure to offer a lot of positive feedback and celebrate their efforts, Linsley advises.)
5. Get out the jump rope
Jumping rope is an easy way to get the kids moving. You can burn an average of 125 calories jumping rope in just 10 minutes — a great cardio workout for the entire household.
Rainy/Snowy Day Family Activities
Even if the weather isn’t cooperating, you can still stay active with your family. These are great indoor (and outdoor!) options for gloomier, chillier, wetter days.
1. Go sledding
Running up and sledding down your local snowy hill is an intense cardio workout — a 150-pound adult can burn around 340 calories per hour of sledding. Ramp up the calorie burn by racing each other back uphill!
2. Head to the roller rink
Have a retro dance party on wheels! Research shows that inline skating can improve balance and strength in children, and it’s a great cardio workout for everyone. Plus, it’s indoors, so you can stay warm and dry.
3. Go ice skating
Ice skating makes the wintry weather feel a little more bearable, so find a local indoor or outdoor ice rink and test your balance. Not a great skater? Even better — you’ll work those quads getting back up every time you fall!
4. Play a game of Twister
The whole family can play this fun, flexibility-focused game together. “It’s great for stretching,” explains Linsley. Don’t have the game handy? Linsley suggests having each family member write their favorite dance move or exercise on a scrap of paper, then “have a draw and create your own home workout as a team!”
5. Relax with yoga
Take a calmer, more peaceful approach to fitness with a family yoga flow. Introducing kids to yoga cannot only improve their balance and strength, but also their concentration, memory, and self-confidence.