Feel like you’re always working out on your own? Is exercising one of the lonelier parts of your day?
While sometimes working out can be a chance to get away from the family and enjoy a little peace and quiet, or just listening to your favorite tunes or podcast, sometimes it’s nice to bring the entire family together for some together-time fitness. And the benefits go far beyond your health. Working out as a family helps strengthen those family bonds and can even strengthen your child’s communication and cooperation skills if they’re older, or their coordination and motor skills if they’re younger.
Here are a few easy ways to invite the family to participate in your exercise routine.
1. Make it fun.
Okay, so yeah — your 5-year-old probably isn’t going to be that interested in a 45-minute yoga session, and your 12-year-old probably doesn’t care about pilates or strength training. But what if you make exercise fun?
Rather than rolling out your exercise mat and following along with a dry video, take your exercise on the road. Go on a hike. Go on a walk to somewhere new in your neighborhood. Go geocaching. Learn a new active skill together, from roller blading to snowshoeing.
2. Schedule it in.
You probably have a schedule for your own exercise time and that schedule likely keeps you on target to meet your goals. Just like you have a schedule for your individual exercise, consider scheduling out your family-time exercise as well. This ensures it actually happens, versus just pushing it off because everyone’s busy or too tired.
Maybe every Saturday afternoon becomes dedicated to family exercise. Maybe you block off 30 minutes for family exercise every evening before dinner. However you schedule it out, make it a priority and stick to it.
3. Make it mandatory.
While you probably want your kids and partner to enjoy family exercise time, if everyone’s dragging their feet and putting up a fuss, you may need to make things mandatory.
One easy way to do this and ensure your family is actually getting in the exercise rather than plodding along the bike path or doing half-hearted crunches? Combine exercise with chores.
Whether it’s raking leaves, shoveling snow or volunteering to pick up litter along a local hiking trail, making exercise mandatory through chores and other tasks is a way to get the ball rolling.
4. Sneak it in.
If you don’t necessarily want to play “the bad mom” by making exercise mandatory, you can always sneak in a few fitness-focused tasks throughout the day — for everyone’s benefit.
When you make a family trip to the grocery store or mall, park further away from the entrance, so you can all get in those steps. When you’re visiting grandma’s apartment, lead your kids to the stairs versus the elevator. “Forget” a needed item for dinner and take everyone on a short walk down the street to pick it up from the corner store.
Everyone will get a little more exercise, without even realizing it.
5. Make it a competition.
Some families absolutely thrive on competition. If that sounds like yours, get to competing. Maybe you challenge the entire family to a step goal. Whoever gets the most steps for the week gets to pick where your order take-out from on Friday night, or they get to pick the movie or board game for a family fun night.
For an added level of competition, you can challenge another family to a similar goal, just for the satisfaction of “beating” the Joneses.
6. Be flexible.
As with most things in parenting, being flexible when involving your family in an exercise routine is key. You don’t want to force things, you don’t want to remain too rigid and you don’t want to turn your kids off exercise for life.
Just remember — as long as your kids are getting some form of exercise in on a regular basis, that’s all that matters. They don’t have to do the same thing every single day and they don’t even necessarily need to exercise the same amount every day. Every little bit helps.