This post looks at how to make family fitness fun and why it’s a worthwhile investment.
We all know that physical activity is good for our bodies, inside and out, but it is equally good for our mental, emotional and cognitive health and can be a powerful tool for fostering family connection and commitment. The saying ‘families that play together stay together’ really does seem to apply and making family fitness a priority is a great way to build active playtime into our family’s regular routine.
One of the major barriers to incorporating activity and exercise into our regular routine has to do with our mindset. When we view exercise as a chore that we have to do to keep fit and healthy we can feel burdened by the addition to our schedule and to do list. The key is to think of family fitness as FUN!
When things are fun we naturally fit then into our lives, so here are some of my top tips for making family fitness an exercise that everyone can enjoy.
Laugh your tails off
Sometimes as adults we can get so involved with the ‘important’ aspects of life that we forget how to let our hair down and have fun, simply for the sake of having fun.
They say laughter is the best medicine but it seems that the older we get the less we laugh. In fact, research shows that children laugh between 150-400 times per day whereas most adults are lucky to laugh 10-15 times. We rarely stop to think about it but anyone who spends time around children will know this to be true. So in this case our children really are the experts and we would be wise to take our children’s leads and reap the many rewards!
Some of the benefits of laughter include:
- Activates deep abdominal muscles
- Utilises diaphragmatic breathing
- Increases the supply of oxygen to the body and brain, enhancing muscular and cognitive function
- Releases endorphins – your body’s natural ‘feel good’ chemicals
- Burns off and reduces the production of stress hormones
- Centres attention on the present moment
- Enhances bonding and connection
- Feels good and is lots of fun!
While we don’t traditionally think of laughter as exercise, it really does engage our aerobic system and have powerful benefits for us physically, emotionally and socially.
How can you incorporate more fun and laughter into your family’s routine?
Head off on a family adventure
Regardless of where you are right now and what your family timetable looks like, heading outdoors with the family will automatically reduce the number of competing distractions and give you all some time to relax, let your guard down and simply enjoy each others company.
Once the calming elements of nature take sway and the fresh air begins to blow out the built up cobwebs, conversations often naturally begin to flow. And, if not, we can be grateful for a golden opportunity to relish in the peace and quiet and enjoy the moment.
There’s nothing quite like heading off for an adventure together and with all the options we have available at our doorstep we really are spoiled for choice. From beaches and lakes to forests and volcanic craters – variety is the spice of life.
Our family really loves alternating between favourite family spots, which enhance a sense of continuity and tradition, and exploring new frontiers, which fosters curiosity and keeps things interesting.
What are your favourite family adventure spots?
Go for an evening walk
One of the easiest and most cost effective ways to incorporate family fitness into your regular routine is to get in the habit of taking an evening walk as a family. Walking is a great way for everyone to get away from the distractions and noise and to relax and unwind after a busy day. Even a short walk is enough to clear the air, check in with one another and prepare for a restful sleep.
Try taking a 10-minute (+) family walk every evening for a week and see if it is a habit you would like to continue.
Step out of your comfort zone
Team building activities are not reserved for sports and business.
In actual fact, our family is the first and most enduring team we will ever be a part of and it’s important that we invest time and energy in making sure it’s functioning optimally as a unit. One way to do that is by engaging in fun bonding exercises where the emphasis is getting everyone involved in a common activity. This can be as simple as packing a picnic, throwing the family in the car and heading out for an adventure in the wilderness or you take it up a notch and try horseback riding or a high ropes course.
What team building activities would stretch your family to step outside of their comfort zone a little?
Get off the sidelines and get involved
As parents we’re often standing on the sidelines cheering our kids on and offering our support but now and then it’s a great idea to get off the sidelines and get involved.
A great way to get in on the action is to participate in an organised event like a family fun run/walk or obstacle challenge. Now if you’re sitting there thinking that the words fun and run should never appear in the same sentence and believe that family events are only for athletic families then you can rest assured there is room for everyone to get involved.
Find something that will suit your family’s abilities and aim to simply give it a go, have fun and work together.
What family events are held in your area that you could get involved in together?
Strengthen social bonds and friendship beyond the immediate family by inviting wider family or friends to join you in activities.
You can keep it simple by meeting up for a game of touch, a bike ride or a nature hike or go all out and organise a family challenge event. Whatever you choose, the name of the game should be to have fun and enjoy each others company so that fitness becomes an enjoyable part of life that everyone looks forward to.
What activity would your family like to invite others to join you in?
It’s important to remember the power of play and the benefits of finding creative ways to combine family, fitness and fun! Not only will doing so increase your family’s physical health and wellbeing, it will have major benefits to everyone’s social, emotional and intellectual fitness and strengthen family bonds and commitment!
Enjoy the journey toward fun family fitness – inside and out!