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[TEST] 9 ways to exercise as a family

How can you help your child get the recommended one-plus hours of daily physical activity? The answer is to rethink your idea of exercise. A workout doesn’t have to mean running laps or lifting weights. Instead, focus on lifestyle activities you can do with your kids whenever the inspiration strikes. As a bonus, exercise with family does double duty as quality time. Let these creative ideas help you turn every day into an opportunity to get fit—and have fun—together.

1. Go for pre- or post-dinner walks

Whether you head into town or just cruise the neighborhood, building a walk into your daily schedule ensures that it won’t get put off. To make walking more fun, make a game of finding things along your route—like a cat sitting in the window.

2. Crank up the music and boogie down

Hold disco nights as a family and invite the neighbors. Move aside furniture, load up the playlist and let kids use a flashlight as a strobe light.

3. Sneak workouts into other activities

Have your toddler walk instead of riding in the cart at the supermarket, and take the stairs or walk up the escalator whenever possible. Whether you drive or take public transportation, try going only partway to your destination, and then walk the rest.

4. Turn TV commercials into fitness breaks

During commercial breaks, play Coach, in which you take turns “ordering” each other to “drop and give me five,” or Follow the Leader, in which one person leads the others in fun, simple moves like clapping, wiggling, and marching.

5. Have a weekly sports night

One game to play is the fit-deck shuffle. Create a series of playing cards featuring family-friendly exercises, such as bear-crawling or ape-walking. Each family member picks a card, and performs the exercise pictured, until all the cards have been dealt. 

6. Walk or run for charity

Model the value of exercise—and of giving back to society—by teaming up with your children for a fund-raising race. There’s often a kids’ race that’s held before the main race starts; enter your kids to get everyone involved.

7. Put kids to work in the yard

If autumn brings down leaves in your area, make a game out of catching them on a windy day. Then rake them into piles—give the kids child-sized rakes so they can help—and have fun jumping in them, or take turns completely covering each other in leaves. After a snowfall, let your kids help clear the porch or walkway, then see who can make the most snow angels. 

8. Team up for gardening

Kids are great at digging up dirt, so let them turn over the soil and help you plant new bulbs. In the summer, set up a sprinkler to water the lawn, and challenge kids to duck the droplets.

9. Walk the dog

Get the whole family involved—including your pooch. Research has shown that dog owners have more fun losing weight and are able to keep it off longer than non-pup-owners.


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