By Jennifer Goforth Gregory
KIDS LOVE TO run, play and jump. But if you
tell them it’s time to exercise they often balk.
The trick to getting your kids moving is to
make it fun and a part of your daily lives.
Being physically active as a family is a great
way to both spend time together and stay fit.
Exercise is a prime example of parents’ actions
speaking louder than words. “Parents are going
to set the tone for the family and should lead by
example, in terms of both fitness and nutri-
tion,” says Costco member Sean Sullivan,
owner of Fitness Together in Brecksville, Ohio.
“If children see their parents exercise and that
being active is a priority, then they will follow.”
Here are five fun ways to get your whole
family moving together.
Recess at home. Head outside with
your kids and ask them to show you the
games they play at recess. “We take our kids
to structured sports, which is exercise but
robs kids of unstructured play time and
adults of time playing with their kids,” says
Dr. Scott Chapman, co-owner of Enhance
Integrated Wellness, a chiropractic and phys-
ical therapy clinic focusing on healthy life-
styles. “When your kids teach you a game,
then it is a role reversal and gives the child a
sense of ownership.”
He reports that his children’s favorite
games to play in the backyard as a family are
The Costco Connection
Expecting, new and growing families will find
the tools they need to get and stay fit, as
well as food, clothing, supplements, diapers,
wipes, formula, baby gear, nursery furniture,
toys and more, at Costco and Costco.com.
The family that
stays fit together
kickball, tag with bases and a basketball game
called Knockout. “There is a lot of running,
jumping and laughing,” says Chapman, a
Hike to treasure. Hiking is a great
way to get outside. Instead of simply heading
off on a trail, find a letterbox or geocache
near you that involves a mile or two of hiking
in a safe area. In geocaching, you use a GPS
system to find a hidden stash of trinkets,
while in letterboxing, clues will lead you to
the letterbox. Your kids will have no idea that
they are exercising; in their minds they are
simply going on a treasure hunt in the woods.
For more information, check out letter
boxing.org and geocaching.com.
Head inside. When the weather is
frightful, head to local businesses that offer
indoor fitness opportunities. Costco member
Kyle Zelazny, personal trainer and owner of
Chicago Family Fit, says that one client’s
daughter disliked all exercise until they discovered indoor rock climbing, and she got
hooked on the sport.
Having mock swim meets against each
other at an indoor pool, seeing who can skate
the most laps at the roller- or ice-skating rink,
even setting up a scavenger hunt at the mall
that gets the family walking and running, can
be ways to stay active in colder weather. Some
towns offer such creative activities as kayaking indoors or indoor mountain biking.
Obstacle course time. Challenge
your kids to make an obstacle course in the
yard that they think they can complete faster
than the adults. “Kids love the challenge of
beating adults, and when they create the course
then they can be creative in the activities as well
as including exercises that they enjoy,”
Encourage them to use cones, sticks, rocks,
jump ropes, chalk, items from the garage or
anything else that they can find to create a fun
obstacle course. A fun twist is to have the slow-est person redesign the course to see if he or
she can win the next round.
Victory laps. To increase the exercise
and interaction while playing video games or
watching television, Sullivan suggests having
your kids run a few victory laps around the
house each time they get to a new level on a
game, and all grownups in the house must
“When watching television together as a
family, you can have everyone do a physical
activity during the commercials related to the
show,” he adds.
Practice your dance moves when watching Dancing with the Stars, have a jump rope
contest when watching sporting events, run
through the house with a pretend cape for a
superhero episode or do ninja kicks if Teenage
Mutant Ninja Turtles is your show of choice. C
Jennifer Goforth Gregory has been writing
professionally for 20 years.