Staying active as a family

Two adults running outdoors in a park with four young children

There are many ways to be active that involve the whole family. Involving the whole family in physical activity can be fun and inexpensive. Here are 10 ideas:

  1. Set specific activity times. Determine time slots throughout the week when the whole family is available. Devote a few of these times to physical activity. Try doing something active after dinner, or begin the weekend with a Saturday morning walk.
  2. Plan ahead and track your progress. Write your activity plans on a family calendar. Let the kids help in planning the activities. Allow them to check it off after completing each activity.
  3. Include work around the house. Involve the kids in yard work and other active chores around the house. Have them help you with raking, weeding, planting or vacuuming.
  4. Use what is available. Plan activities that require little or no equipment or facilities. Examples include walking, jogging, jumping rope, playing tag and dancing. Find out what programs your community recreation center offers for free or a minimal charge.
  5. Build new skills. Enroll the kids in classes they might enjoy such as gymnastics, dance or tennis. Help them practice. This will keep things fun and interesting, and introduce new skills!
  6. Plan for all weather conditions. Choose some activities that do not depend on weather conditions. Try mall walking, indoor swimming or active video games. Enjoy outdoor activities as a bonus whenever the weather is nice.
  7. Turn off the TV. Set a rule that no one can spend longer than 2 hours per day playing video games, watching TV and using the computer (except for school work). Instead of a TV show, play an active family game, dance to favorite music or go for a walk.
  8. Start small. Begin by introducing one new family activity and add more when you feel everyone is ready. Take the dog for a longer walk, play another ball game or go to an additional exercise class.
  9. Include other families. Invite others to join your family activities. This is a great way for you and your kids to spend time with friends while being physically active. Plan parties with active games such as bowling or an obstacle course, sign up for family programs at the YMCA or join a recreational club.
  10. Treat the family with fun physical activity. When it is time to celebrate as a family, do something active as a reward. Plan a trip to the zoo, park or lake to treat the family.