Fitness doesn’t have to mean going to the gym, lifting weights, and running miles on a treadmill. There are many activities outside of the gym that are fun, healthy, and perfect ways for your family to spend time together and get a great workout at the same time.
You don’t have to be a great athlete or even take sports seriously at all. You just have to be willing to get involved and have fun. Let’s look at a few activities that will keep your family happy, healthy, and moving.
Volleyball – You can set up a net in your backyard or get a game going on the beach. Some of my neighbors have even created sand volleyball courts in their yards.
Volleyball is wonderful for your overall health, strengthening the muscles in your arms and legs, improving your hand-eye coordination, and increasing your energy level. You burn a ton of calories and it’s a great way to tone and tighten problem areas. The whole family will get a great workout and walk away feeling strong and energized.
Golf – There are numerous benefits to playing a round or two of golf, especially if you decide to forego the caddy and golf cart. Playing 18 holes of golf generally means walking about 5 miles. This gives you a great cardiovascular workout, and you get to enjoy the beautiful scenery of the golf course.
Unless you and your children are avid golfers, it may be easier to play a round of miniature golf instead. You still get the benefits of getting out of the house, walking around the course, swinging the club, and consistently moving while you play. You’ll just miss that 5-mile walk.
Tennis – Playing a game of tennis can be as low-key or intense as you choose. Your reflexes, speed, and agility will all be put to the test, and you’ll burn a lot of calories during this interval-style workout.
Hitting the ball back and forth with your children is a great way to work your arm and leg muscles. This is especially true if they don’t hit the ball directly back to you and you find yourself running around the court to get to it.
Tennis is a great workout and a perfect way for your family to get their game on and show off their skills, especially if you have unused rackets already sitting around your house. Then your only cost is a few $3 cans of balls.
Swimming – Whether in a pool, at the lake, or in the ocean, swimming is a lot of fun and a workout for the whole family. It’s an especially good option if anyone in your family has joint problems that could make other sports more difficult.
If you get tired of regular swimming and horsing around, try Marco Polo, Sharks and Minnows, water relays, or other games. Not only will you help your children develop an important life skill (swimming), but you’ll all have a great time doing it!
Though I was never an avid swimmer, my parents felt strongly that everyone should have a good grasp of basic swim skills – enough to have some hope of surviving a boating accident or water emergency.
Hiking – If you live near mountains, this is a great (and free!) option that gets you outside. Kids love watching for wildlife, exploring nature, and making whistles out of acorn caps. Have a plan for what to do if they start to get bored, though – break out games like I Spy, tell stories to each other, or see how many of a certain type of animal you can find.
Roller skating – Break out the roller skates or rollerblades, and hit the pavement for a breath of fresh air and some exercise that will get all your muscles working. Roller skating is especially good for your heart, and is considered one of the best cardio workouts. Find a bike path in your area or just skate around your neighborhood. Be sure a helmet is part of your gear, just in case.
Bicycling – This is a great way to experience the outdoors with the whole family. You can even venture out of the neighborhood – safe biking paths can be found in many cities, whether in parks or other areas. Biking is a great way to boost your energy level and give your legs a workout. Make a day of it by stopping to play on the playground and enjoy a picnic. Again, be sure a helmet is part of your bike gear.
Playing sports as a family is a great way to build character and teach your kids to work as a team. Working together can strengthen relationships and form a unique bond.
It’s also a fantastic way to build your children’s confidence and self-esteem, and to teach them about following rules and good sportsmanship. The principles and skills learned during this time are invaluable. Playing sports as a family can instill positive habits that can have a lasting effect on your relationships, both now and in the future.
If your child loves a sport, there are often competitions they can enter to take it to the next level. While they generally involve a significant time and financial commitment, tennis tournaments have taught many key lessons in our family.
And swim meets have been a major part of two of my nephews’ lives. There are many junior golf tournaments as well.
In addition, many 5Ks are open to families, allowing you to run them together.
So hit the court, course, trail, or whatever – and enjoy all the fun and fitness sports can offer. You’ll reap numerous benefits.