Fun Ways to Stay Fit as a Family
If you’re looking for a spark to ignite your exercise goals, Family Health and Fitness Day is a great time to start! The National Recreation and Park Association marks the second Saturday each June as a day to jump start a summer of active fun.
Bonus Benefits of Family Fitness
Yes, you know that physical activity is important for lifelong health, but there may be benefits you haven’t considered. Fitness can enrich your lives by:
Moving resistant family members away from screens, supporting mental health.[1,2]
Opening opportunities for important family conversations.
Initiating family bonding.
Cementing important health habits early in life.
Exposing the family to nature, which may boost the gut microbiome.3
Fun Family Fitness Ideas
If you or your kids think exercise is boring, it may be time to mix it up with new activities. Consider these ideas to get the ball rolling.
Check out your local Parks and Recreation Department. Many cities offer exercise activities for families and your city may have a special event planned for Family Health and Fitness Day.
Pickleball is the fastest growing sport in America. The game is a cross between tennis and badminton, and it’s an entertaining activity suitable for all ages and abilities.4
Put the kids in charge. Empowering each family member to take turns planning activities can help keep everyone motivated.
Walk the neighbor’s friendly dog. If you don’t have a pet of your own, kids are often energized by an adorable animal by their side.
Playing tag or keep-away in your own backyard or in a public park is fun and free.
No time to leave the house? Find a kid-friendly exercise video online and do it together.
Use your park’s playground equipment with younger kids. Keep their heart rates up with laughter by pretending the ground is lava, playing pirates, or following the leader.
Tackle active chores like raking, washing the car, or pulling weeds.
Hunting for painted rocks is a popular activity in some communities. Decorate rocks at home and then put them discreetly along public hiking trails for other families to find. Hunt for other painted rocks while you hide yours.
Geocaching is great for older kids. It’s like a treasure hunt using your phone’s GPS, and many apps are free to download.
Help the Community
The whole family can get exercise while helping the community.
Some public parks depend on volunteers to maintain the grounds and make improvements. Ask your city Parks and Recreation Department how your family can make a difference while getting exercise.
Organize a neighborhood or park trash pick-up. Get permission from the park and take safety precautions like wearing protective gloves and talking about watching for dangerous drug-related items.5
Start a community vegetable garden. In addition to exercise, you can enjoy a healthy harvest, share the bounty with the local food bank, and potentially boost each gardener’s microbiome.[6,7]
When Weather Fights Your Fitness
Don’t let lousy weather get in the way of your exercise goals. There are many ways to stay fit despite rainy-day roadblocks.
Have a family dance party. Turn on those workout tunes and dance together like the neighbors aren’t watching.
Make tv time active. Traditionally we sit to watch movies, but try walking, marching, skipping, jumping, crunching, squatting, dancing, or stretching during show time.
Get that spring cleaning started and be creative to get the most out of it. For example, use both arms to wash the walls and windows, and do squats as you wipe the baseboards. Add some music and silly moves to motivate the kids.
Go outside anyway! If the rain is mild and lightning-free, you can still enjoy the outdoors with some rain gear. What’s more fun for young kids than puddle jumping?
If you missed Family Health and Fitness Day this year, remember every day is a great day to start when it comes to improving your family’s health!
1. Khan, A., Lee, E-Y., et al. (2021). "Child & Adolescent Health." The Lancet.
2. "Where we stand TV viewing time." (n.d.). HealthyChildren.org. Accessed May 25, 2022.
3. Flies, E.J., Clarke, L.J., et al. (2020). [Urbanisation, airborne microbes and our health]. A systematic review Science of the Total Environment. PubMed.
4. Vitale, Kenneth, and Steven Liu. (2020). "Pickleball: Review and Clinical Recommendations for this Fast-growing Sport." Current Sports Medicine Reports.
5. "Clean it Up." (2018, 19 Mar.). National Geographic. kids.nationalgeographic.com.
6. Brown, M.D., Leila M. Shinn, L.M., et al. (2022). [Fecal and soil microbiota composition of gardening and non-gardening families]. Scientific Reports. PubMed.
7. n.d. ACGA. Accessed May 25, 2022. communitygarden.org.