Out with the Fam: Creative Ways to Exercise as a Family

6 minute read

By Jordana Weiss

Working out becomes a lot more fun when you have another person or a few other people to keep you accountable. That’s especially true if you live in the same house! Start a search today to explore creative ways to exercise as a family.

There are tons of different ways that you can work out with your family. None of these ideas require too much equipment, and most are completely free, so no more excuses — get out and get moving today!

Go on a hike

One of the easiest ways that you can start your family on the path towards health is by taking walks together on a regular basis. It can be something as simple as circling the block a few times if you live in a city or heading out on a weekend adventure to a local trail or hiking path. All you’ll need is a sturdy pair of walking shoes. Don’t skimp on these, and you should be able to use them for several years before they need to be replaced. If you have very young children, you can wear them in a carrier until they’re old enough to walk on their own.

Family boot camp

This is a great activity if you’ve got young children who are able to exercise on their own. Working out together and seeing their boundless energy will hopefully inspire you to push yourself further. The way this activity works is everyone writes down their favorite exercise or activity — say, push-ups, squats, or even laps around the house. Then you arrange the activities into a boot-camp style work out, set a specific amount of time per activity, and complete them in order. You can use the same order of activities every time or mix them up so people don’t get too comfortable.

Yard games

It’s easy to forget how strenuous yard games like Capture the Flag and Nerf Darts are until you play them as an adult. Children can play games like these for hours with ease, but they’re actually a pretty excellent work out. The next time you’re searching for a way for your family to work out together, organize a small game of Capture the Flag or Dodgeball, and split your family into teams to play each other. If you’re lucky enough to have a large back yard, you can play this at home. If not, go to a local park.

Water balloon fight

If you want to encourage your children to stay active and cement your status as the world’s coolest parent all at the same time, organize a massive, family-wide water balloon fight the next time the temperature swells into heat wave territory. Fill a bunch of small balloons with cold water (this part is key), leave them on the front step for your children when they come home from school, and post a note challenging them to a water-balloon fight. Then get ready to battle.

Dance party

Everyone, young and old alike, loves a good kitchen dance party. The next time you’re making dinner or cleaning dishes, crank up the tunes throughout the house, and encourage your family members to stop whatever they’re doing and join you for an impromptu dance party.

If you want to keep the party going, make a playlist in advance with everyone’s favorite songs, things you know will keep them dancing. Everyone’s got at least one song that will get them out of their seat, and encourage some shameless gyrating, hip-shaking, and boogying. You may be surprised how out of breath and energized you are after just a few songs.

Jump rope

One exercise that’s perfect for adults and kids alike is jump rope. Although kids might be used to more leisurely games like double-dutch rather than the Rocky IV-style jump-rope activities that professional trainers use to kick their client’s butts into shape.

The next time you’re looking for a fun work out that you can do at home with your family, grab a few jump ropes, and challenge your spouse or your kids to see who can jump the longest without tiring. Due to their lower center of gravity, kids often do better than adults at this game, which may keep them invested for longer.

A day at the beach

On your next family trip to the beach, pay attention to the activities that you and your family enjoy. You may not have realized that you’re actually getting in a pretty good workout without even trying.

Swimming, digging on the shore, and running on sand are all great ways to work out. You can also organize a family game of beach volleyball, which is an excellent workout that builds muscles and coordination all at the same time, and only requires two people to play.

Turn TV commercials into exercise breaks

The next time you’re watching a TV program as a family, take the opportunity to encourage physical activity by getting active or doing stretches during the commercial breaks. During this time, most people would just be zoning out or playing on their phones anyway, so there’s no excuse not to do it.

Come up with a list of activities that are quick and easy, like push-ups, sit-ups, jumping jacks, or squats, and rotate through them every commercial break. Soon, you’ll find that you’re unable to sit through commercials without wanting to get up and move your body.

Group yard work

Another activity that surprisingly strenuous is yard work. Chores like painting, raking leaves, shoveling snow, and digging weeds are all physically taxing, and require a good deal of energy.

The next time there’s a whole list of outdoor chores that need to be done, enlist the family and add in a little healthy competition by rewarding the person who gets the most done at the end of the day. Even if you have small children, they can help by moving piles of leaves into bags, or digging holes for plants, and it will make them feel great to be helpful.

Walk your dog, or borrow a neighbor’s

A recent study from the North American Association on the Study of Obesity showed that dog owners found losing weight easier, and were able to keep it off for longer versus people who exercise solo. Having a dog is a great way to ensure that you get outside for a walk at least once a day, and you can make it a family affair by going on walks together or assigning a roster of different walkers every day of the week. If you don’t have a dog of your own, you can ask to borrow a neighbor’s dog if they’re comfortable with you already, or volunteer as a family at a local animal shelter.

Teach yourselves a sport together

Another great way to encourage your family to make fitness a priority is to learn a new skill or sport together. Take up golf, tennis, or even soccer or baseball together. That way, you can encourage each other, share tips, and build your skills together. Plus, if kids see their parents struggling with something new, it will let them know that it’s okay to try and not succeed the first time, which is a great thing to learn at a young age. Learning as a group will also allow you benefits like sharing equipment, and you may be able to qualify for a discount if you arrange lessons or trainings as a family rather than individually.

Shortcuts to health

There are a lot of little things that you can do on a daily basis that add up to healthier habits for your family. Things like parking in the furthest part of the parking lot and walking those extra yards to the store or taking the stairs instead of the escalator start to really add up when you make a point of doing them on a daily basis. Kids mimic their parents’ habits, and if they see you make physical fitness a priority every day, they’ll be more likely to do the same.

Jordana Weiss