Outdoor Adventures Fit for FamiliesGet Out & Get Active as a Family
-- By Nicole Nichols, Fitness Instructor
Have you thought about how great it would be to include your family in your pursuit to exercise more regularly? Family exercise will improve the health of your loved ones, make exercise more fun, and at the same time develop stronger connections between all of you. With a little creativity, you can find a way to make it work for everyone.
Here are a few outdoor ideas to get your family focused on fitness:
Get out in the yard. Sunshine, fresh air, soft breezes, and the smells of nature—what could be better? Still, many people rank outside yard work right up there with filing tax returns. Hundreds of gas and electric yard tools were invented so you could stay inactive and indoors more often. People are putting a lot of effort into these products so you don’t have to use any effort at all.
Self-powered yard work can be an incredible source of fun, relaxing exercise. It might be a time-saver too, if you can use it to offset some gym time. The whole family can get involved during various seasons. Younger children can help weed, plant, water, and rake. Older children can help with carrying, mulching, shoveling, and mowing. What a great reward for the whole family! When the "work" out is over, sit back and enjoy our lush, freshly landscaped yard. To learn more about yard workouts, read Work Out with Yard Work.
Take an active family vacation. Instead of spending time lounging on the beach or riding in a tour bus, plan a vacation that's full of fun, outdoor activity. Try to incorporate some of these ideas into your next trip, so that your family does at least one activity each day:
- Go swimming or play at a water park.
- Hike a trail in a national park.
- Take walking tours of historical landmarks.
- Go whitewater rafting, kayaking, or canoeing with a guide.
- Take a ski trip.
- Go on a bicycle tour.
- Paddle boat at a resort of theme park.
- Try climbing, snorkeling, or scuba diving.
Visit your local park. Ever wonder why it's called the Department of Parks and Recreation? It provides places for people to have fun outdoors. You can’t help but be active and play while in a place of recreation, and the great outdoors is full of these opportunities. The more you mix up your activities, the more fun you’re going to have while getting fit. These outdoor activity options have something for the whole family:
- Hiking, walking, jogging, backpacking, walking the dog, climbing
- Swimming, canoeing, waterskiing, rafting
- Biking, mountain biking, rollerblading
- Skiing, snowboarding, sledding, snow tubing
Take a trip to the playground. While some kids are fortunate enough to have a large play set in their own backyards, many parks and playgrounds can still put those larger-than-life toys to shame. Kids of all ages enjoy climbing, sliding, hanging, and balancing across these big obstacle-course sets made of wood, plastic, and even steel. It can be a fun time (and a good workout) for the whole family. Parents and teenagers can get involved with the younger family members by chasing them and playing other spontaneous games. Even adults can turn these jungle gyms into their own personal gyms. Here's how:
- Step up and down on the stairs, just like you would on a stair-stepper machine.
- Hang from a high bar and work on pull ups (with an overhand grip) and chin ups (with an underhand grip).
- Hang from a high bar and lift your knees into your chest to work your abs. For a more advanced option, keep your legs straight as you lift them parallel to the ground.
- Find a step or level that's about six to 12 inches above ground level. With your hands on the step, face away from it to perform triceps dips.
- On a sturdy wall, place your hands shoulder-width apart and do some chest-strengthening wall pushups.
- A mini basketball, softball, t-ball or sand volleyball tournament
- Wheelbarrow, relay, and 3-legged races
- Softball or Frisbee throwing competitions (for distance)
- Mid-distance races
- Swimming races and diving contests
- Capture the flag or hide-and-go-seek
Most of all—make fitness fun for everyone! In the process, you’ll teach your children about discipline, goal setting, and the importance of not only health, but also family connection.