As the weather gets warmer, many families are thinking about scheduling summer activities. While summer activities can be a great way for children to stay physically active, summer fitness doesn’t have to be scheduled. One of the common roadblocks for families is always this idea that fitness has to come from a class or a sport or something that is structured and scheduled, but that’s not true.
There are plenty of activities that families and children of all ages can do around the house or the neighborhood to stay physically active during the summer. Simple things like just going to the park together are a great way to keep kids active, especially if you can walk or ride a bike to the park.
Here are a few of our favorite summer fitness ideas for families:
Go for a Walk — And Make It Fun!
Walking around the neighborhood is a great way to exercise as a family, and making the walk engaging can be fun for everyone. Turn your neighborhood stroll into an adventure walk by adding a scavenger hunt component. Have kids look for a certain number or type of objects or point out things in the neighborhood that start with each letter of the alphabet.
Build a Home Obstacle Course
Home obstacles courses, like adventure walks, are a mix of fitness and family fun. Using objects from around the house, work together to design an obstacle course in the yard, and then take turns attempting to complete the course. Try out different combinations, difficulty levels, or instructions.
Rainy, Too Hot, or Smoke Day Fitness
For those days when the Southern Oregon weather isn’t cooperating, there are plenty of things children and families can do to stay active indoors. A home obstacle course is still possible with some adaptations. One of our favorite indoor obstacle courses for my kids was to take yarn and spread it between different points in a hallway, like a laser field that they have to climb through like spies.
Yoga is also an option for indoor exercise. YouTube channels like Cosmic Yoga offer story-based yoga practices designed for kids, which is great for kids who are anywhere from preschool to about 11 years old. Yoga is such a great activity for kids. It promotes a lot of connection to your body, it provides a lot of calm, a lot of stretching and strengthening, so it’s a great all-around activity. And parents can absolutely do it, too.
Family Fitness: Benefits and Safety Tips
Safety is always an important consideration when doing physical activity, and there are certain things to keep in mind when exercising with children.
Choose age-appropriate activities and items. A home obstacle course for a two-year-old is going to look different from a home obstacle course for a 10-year-old. Don’t put kids in a position to do things outside of their physical skill levels.
Pay attention to children’s limits. Kids are attuned to their bodies’ limits. Take breaks from strenuous activities like swimming or jumping on a trampoline, and listen if your child says they’re ready to stop exercising.
Stay alert. If you’re walking in the neighborhood, have smaller children hold your hand so they can’t wander into the street. During any sort of water activity, don’t ever put children into a situation where they could be over their heads. If they can’t touch the bottom, they need to be with you, even if they have a flotation device on or with them.
In addition to physical health benefits for everyone involved, exercise can have mental health benefits for children and adults. Getting kids up and active, especially outside, gives them a break from screens, which can be good for them both physically and mentally. Staying active has been shown to benefit mental health, and family fitness can strengthen bonds between family members of all ages. And most importantly: HAVE FUN THIS SUMMER!