Society has always placed a lot of emphasis on what people look like, a number on the scale or the size of your clothes. However, being healthy really isn’t about any of those things.
A person’s health includes a wide range of factors, from their mental and emotional strength to muscle density and cardiovascular endurance. Activity level, diet, and sleep habits all mix with genetics to make a complicated equation that adds up to individual health.
Getting and staying healthy is important for every member of your family. Children of all ages (and their parents) need activities to help their minds and bodies grow strong and develop new skills.
To help your family in this endeavor, here are five ways that dads and kids can get in shape together.
The great outdoors beckons to you! There are so many options the moment you step outside.
You can take your kiddos on an evening walk (maybe right before or after dinner). Spice things up by doing little “races” along the way, sprinting short distances to get your heart rate going. If you’d rather roll than walk, try snagging your skates or busting out bikes to get you moving.
Other outdoor activities right in your backyard that will work your muscles include doing yard work together or gardening. You might be surprised how sore you are after an hour or two of raking leaves or digging holes to plant a garden.
I also strongly encourage trips to the playground where you can create obstacle courses, climb, jump, and swing. Dads and kids together will have a great time.
Commercial Fitness Breaks
Screen time is a part of life, and while commercials aren’t a given any more, consider taking quick breaks during a show to get everyone up and moving. For every half hour of family screen time, take three breaks, each lasting 1-2 minutes.
Pick a different exercise or activity to do each time. You could run up and down the stairs or do jumping jacks to get your heart rate up.
For strength, try doing simple bodyweight exercises. Things like push-ups, squats, and lunges are all big hits that everyone can do.
If you want to add a bit of intensity and inspire some extra smiles, my kids especially like it when I hold one of them to do bicep curls or put someone on my back for squats. Silly and helpful at the same time!
Hit the Track
In many places, public school tracks are open to the public during non-school hours. This is a fantastic destination for evening outings or weekend mornings.
Not only can you run races and do exercises on the track, but bring a ball or two to create any field you like.
For kids who love to play sports in the backyard, the field in the middle of most tracks offers so many opportunities to feel like a real athlete. And with multiple options, you’re sure to get a lot of activity in before anyone asks for a snack! (But really, bring snacks too.)
Inside or outside, the classic childhood game of “The Floor is Lava” or “Don’t Step on the Crack” is an ideal opportunity to help get both dad and kids in shape.
These games increase balance, core strength, and other gross motor skills while also adding a healthy dose of problem-solving and adventure.
We’ve played this game while hiking trails and hopping across a creek on rocks, in the living room with couches and chairs, and a memorable evening when the entire house became a giant lava game, and we had to get into every room without touching the floor!
With a little creativity and a healthy sense of fun, your family can have some great adventures!
These never get old. Add a little music to the fold, and your heart rate will get pumping in no time.
Put on your favorite playlist, or let a dance station be the DJ and rock out with your kiddos. This is a perfect way to introduce your children to music you love, as well as promote rhythm, musical appreciation, and of course, getting active and having fun!
Get up and Get Moving
At the end of the day, families that make a point to be active in many areas of their life benefit in so many ways.
Kids who get up and get moving with their families are more likely to continue those healthy habits throughout their lifetime, not to mention have better overall physical and mental health. Getting in shape affects energy levels and attitudes in positive ways.
And honestly, let’s be real here. Kids who are active might, just maybe, if you’re lucky, sleep a little better at night. What more motivation do you need?
Author Bio: Cristin Howard runs Smart Parent Advice, a site that provides parenting advice for moms and dads. Cristin writes about all of the different ups and downs of parenting, provides solutions to common challenges, and reviews products that parents need to purchase for babies and toddlers.