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Family Fitness Fun!

Exercise isn’t just good for your body – building movement into your routine benefits your mind too. Regular exercise improves memory and mood, and your child’s socioemotional development can benefit from the teamwork skills and stress reduction that physical activity offers. The added bonus to exercise? As a family activity, it’s a great way to strengthen relationships.

Moreover, taking the time to ensure your kids find exercises they enjoy is the best way to build healthy habits that can last a lifetime. Studies show that if parents are active, their children are more likely to adopt regular exercise as they age. Setting an example of regular exercise that brings you joy (not to mention endorphins) will help your children feel more positively about all kinds of movement and promote a healthy body image.

Below are a few summer family fitness ideas to get you started:

1. Go on a walk! The easiest, lowest cost activity a family can do together is walk, whether it’s just around the neighborhood or your local park or walking trail. For added interaction, think about activities you can do along your route or once you get home – for example, learn more about local flora and fauna and build these into art projects or storytelling exercises. Build it into your schedule for added habit-forming potential, and for kids who may enjoy tracking their movements, use pedometers or apps like MapMyRun.

2. Build an obstacle course. Get creative with objects from around your home, but remember to keep safety in mind for this activity. For competitive kids, use a stopwatch or a timer app to see who finishes the course fastest.

3. Visit your local playground. Play can be structured or unstructured – just have fun with it! You’re never too old for the swingset.

4. Find a family-friendly fitness class. Your local rec center may offer these in person, but  you can find plenty of free videos on YouTube with age-appropriate recommendations. Check out a list of videos here to get started.

5. Teach your kids the classic games you played in your own childhood. Hide and seek? Kickball? Hopscotch, tag and jump rope? Choose a favorite and get outside – you may just start a new family tradition.

6. Dance it out. Put on a playlist and declare a dance party to get moving, or for a more formal option, check out family dance classes your area may offer.

7. Almost anything can be a game – even chores or yardwork. Get creative and turn doing the dishes into a race. Chase each other with the broom or vacuum. Any chore can become the floor is lava!

8. Play a favorite team sport. Enlist the neighbors in a game of soccer or basketball, or go for a game of backyard catch with a baseball and a couple of gloves.

9. Take the stairs whenever possible. If the stairs are accessible to you and your family, make it a habit. Those floors add up!

10. Enroll your kids in swimming lessons. The pool is often kids’ favorite place in the summer, so make sure your family is water-safe before you go. Not only is swimming great exercise, but the possibilities for pool games are endless. Categories, cannon ball contests, freeze tag, sharks and minnows, Marco Polo and other activities make for great summer activities.

11. Take a hike. Do some research on the natural points of interest in your area, or take a day trip to a state or national park. Many of these sites are free to visit or charge a low-cost flat fee per car. If you’re an outdoorsy family, you can even camp out for a weekend. Websites like AllTrails can help you find trails nearby, and you can sort by length and difficulty level. If applicable, remember to check for any weather-related emergency announcements on the park’s website before you go.

12. Get the neighborhood involved. If you live in a neighborhood or apartment building, your children can find playmates nearby and spend hours entertaining themselves outside. Summer break can be an opportune time to make friends, both for kids and your fellow parents. Just be sure your kids know neighborhood safety rules and stay out of busy roads.

13. Find some cheap equipment. You can purchase hula hoops, frisbees and other equipment at your local dollar store. Give your kids a limited budget and let them pick out their favorite outdoor toys.

14. Play outside with animals or pets. If you have a family dog, playing fetch or taking it for a walk is a great way to get everyone moving. Local farms 

15. Take a day trip. Brainstorm some landmarks within driving distance based on your kids’ interests. You don’t have to be outside all day to exercise – you can get plenty of steps in at the zoo or a museum, too.

From all of us at Riverside Medical Clinic, we wish you and your family a happy, healthy summer break!