We all know modern day life makes it difficult to stay moving. Working from home, social distancing, binge watching TV series, increased stress, and unhealthy food choices can all contribute to a sedentary lifestyle and declining health. And whether we realize it or not, every household contains its own unique family culture of health-related habits. Ask yourself: is your family culture a health-conscious one? Are your daily patterns supporting a healthier lifestyle? Daily decisions vary from family to family, but every decision either contributes towards health or away from it. But the good news is with a little awareness and planning, every family can design their households to be more movement-centered and health-conscious!
The Hard Truth
Today about half of all American adults have one or more preventable chronic diseases. And most of these chronic diseases are positively affected by regular physical activity. yet nearly 80% of adults are not meeting the minimum movement guidelines. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends adults do at least 2.5-5 hours of moderate-intensity or 1.25-2.5 hours of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity per week. But did you know frequent, every-day movements can add up to improve you and your family’s health in big ways?
To get your family in motion (pun intended), you want to first sit down with your entire family and agree on some exercises/activities of popular interest. Listed below are some fun workout ideas for you and your family of all ages and abilities. Choose fun, lightly competitive, and realistic activities to ensure your exercise efforts are safe and successful. Next plan on preforming these workouts on the days and times you and your family already spend quality time together. You want these times to be realistic. If you don’t spend enough quality time together, this is a big area of opportunity! Think of sedentary activities that can be reduced (less screen time) and replace with 30-60 minutes of activities most days of the week. Finally, write out the planned activities on either a large calendar-style white board located in a common family area or place workout ideas in a cookie jar (or a fruit bowl 😉) for random drawings (this can be especially fun for smaller children).
Family Workout Ideas:
Don't Let the Balloon Touch the Ground:
This is a personal favorite one of mine and is great for people of all ages and abilities. The rules are simple: hit a balloon up in the air but don’t let it touch the ground. Older folks can even play while seated. To make it more challenging for older kids, have them juggle more than 1 balloon or tie one hand behind their back.
This is a simple one! One family member will see how many sit-ups they can perform in either 30 seconds or 1 minute (for younger kids, start with 30 seconds). To preform: Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Next, cross your arms in front of your chest. Finally, crunch your ab muscles to lift your shoulders off the mat (keep the chin untucked from the chest). Hold for a second, then slowly come back down to starting position. Tally up the results and announce the winner!
Random Dance Party:
This one can either planned or super spontaneous. I can’t tell you how many times my 10-year-old niece and I have broken out into goofy dance moves when a favorite song came on. This plays out exactly how it sounds: just start dancing and see who joins in! If the family looks at you funny, more the reason to keep those goofy moves flowing! Even if you’re the only one, your fun and playful energy will be contagious to your environment.
Post Dinner Walks:
I have found that leisurely walks can help boost mood, help manage stress, and help give me the space to connect with loved ones accompanying me. Shoot for at least 20 minutes post-dinner to get moving. Is 20 minutes too long? Try two 10-minute walks split up throughout the evening.
Trying to dodge a frisbee can be a challenge! This is basically your typical dodgeball game but with Frisbees. To play: line up however many Frisbees you have in a line. Split your family members into two teams. Line up at an equal distance away from the Frisbees. When someone says to go, both teams attempt to grab as many Frisbees as possible and the game begins. Then, it’s GO TIME!
What better way to hold you and your loved ones accountable than having an event planned? This can be super age-appropriate and a good way to get some fresh air! I recommend allowing at least 2 months to get acclimated to a new running or walking program to avoid injuries. If you need help formulating a plan, please reach out to one of our passionate Certified Personal Trainers on staff!
Remember those wall sits from PE class? Well let’s bring it back! This an excellent lower body strengthen exercise for the leg muscles and knee joints. To preform have your family members sit up against a wall surface with plenty of space. Engage your abdominal muscles and slowly slide your back down the wall until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Adjust your feet so your knees are directly above your ankles (rather than over your toes). Keep your back flat against the wall. Hold the position for as long as safely possible. Who’s the winner? Log your results and try to beat it next time!
I hope that you got some family workout ideas ideas to get your family active and enjoying time together. Remember, regular exercise is an essential component of a healthy lifestyle. Strive to meet the physical activity guidelines while keeping things fun! Together, you and your family you can inspire, motivate, and keep each other accountable towards the road better to health. Now let’s get moving!
Tara Littlejohn is a Personal Trainer for The Village Heath Health Club and Spas located in Ocotillo, Arizona. She is originally from Indiana and grew up climbing trees and playing softball. She has also lived in Las Vegas, upstate New York, and Phoenix. Her fitness journey includes outdoor adventures such as hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, running Indianapolis half-marathons, powerlifting, and competing in bodybuilding. Her true passion today is in strength and functional movement training. She is committed to helping her clients thrive through exercise while keeping them safe and injury-free. She also adores her family, her sweet rescue kitty, and loves homemade chocolate chip cookies.