Fitness Articles

Outdoor Adventures Fit for Families

Get Out & Get Active as a Family

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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.
The possibilities for fun family activities are endless while you're on vacation! Read Active Vacation Ideas for additional ideas.

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
People spend thousands of dollars and several days traveling to do some of these same activities. You could be doing them everyday for free or next to nothing. Sharing these activities with your family multiplies the fun and can actually boost your results!
 
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.
Host your own family fun day. Who needs to wait for the annual company picnic to enjoy some healthy grilling and outdoor fun? Start your own fit family day with your household members, extended family and relatives, or even your neighbors and friends. Plan some family-friendly games and activities that will get everyone involved. Don't forget to serve healthy foods and plenty of ice cold water. Here are some fit family ideas to get you started:
  • 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.

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Member Comments

  • Great when the whole family can get involved.
  • My plan is to incorporate some of these ideas on my next vacation, thanx!
  • These are great suggestions!!
  • These are some very good ideas
  • Some really great ideas!
  • It's just me and my husband
  • I love spending time outside with my lil man
  • some days we look for rocks, or different kinds of trees, or just try a new way of walking around the neighborhood. a magnifying glass also works wonders
  • TMOORE I agree with you. I love to chop wood. Mow the yard. Go out into my garden plant stuff and wait to see it grow and then I can pick it.
  • Funny thing about a park as your own gym. It can creep out the mom's of the toddlers who are there if you are there without any kids. I know one guy who was doing his chin ups, etc. A child asked him for some help on the bars. He helped and the mom rushed him screaming at him to stay away from her child and that she was going to call the police on him for being a pedaphile. So.. beware if you don't have a child with you, don't talk to the kids there without their adult's permission.
  • For every family event I have at my home I now try to incorporate some kind of physical activity, or they'll just sit & eat & drink & I worry about them all. A few weeks ago was my daughter's birthday, so I created Championship charts for all kinds of activities - Wii Sports, DDR, push-ups & exercise band/weights, board games, thumb wrestling, badminton, and whatever any of the guests wanted to challenge someone else too. No prizes for no participation. I guess it was successful.. hard to tell with those lazy bums! (Regifting works well for prizes, too, as long as you don't re-gift something one of your guests gave you!)
  • Couldn't agree more! Trampolines are great (and exhausting). I also like to chop wood with my sons, everyone has fun and gets a good workout.
  • Buying a trampoline was the best thing I did for my kids to go outside and exercise. They wore out two big ones over the years.
  • Want a great outdoor activity to do with your kids? Try Geocaching! I plan to start this summer with my girls. People all over the world hide "boxes" with trinkets and notes in them. If you go to geocaching.com you can find them near your home or vacation spot. You need a GPS unit to track them down but its a great investment for an activity the whole family can do together!

About The Author

Nicole Nichols Nicole Nichols
A certified personal trainer and fitness instructor with a bachelor's degree in health education, Nicole loves living a healthy and fit lifestyle and helping others do the same. Nicole was formerly SparkPeople's fitness expert and editor-in-chief, known on the site as "Coach Nicole." Make sure to explore more of her articles and blog posts.

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