Healthy Family Challenge Fitness Plan: Week One
Ready to get moving? Hold a kick-off meeting with the whole gang to get everyone excited about the Healthy Family Challenge. This is your chance to spend more time together and make a life-changing commitment as a family!
Each day this week, try to fit in some extra play at school or the playground. Arrive at school or daycare 15 to 30 minutes early, or stay 15 to 30 minutes later. Bring a basketball or soccer ball for older children to also get in the action.
Day 1: Balloon Volleyball
Equipment: Enough balloons of different shapes and colours for each person playing
How to Play: To begin, try to keep the balloon in the air as a group, and count how many times you can hit the balloon before it touches the ground. Once you’ve mastered the game, add on challenges. Try having each person touch the balloon once before starting with the first person again. Then add two balloons to the mix, or set up a game similar to volleyball with a line separating two teams. Finally, send each child off with their own balloon to see how many times in a row they can hit it before letting it drop to the ground.
Day 2: Alphabet Game
Equipment: Music that your children enjoy. (This is a great game for playdates—more people = more fun.)
How to Play: This is a perfect activity for kids who are starting to learn their letters. One person is the designated audience while other family members come up with a secret word. When the music starts, the participants dance or skip around in a circle, and then everyone lies down on the ground to form the shape of the first letter in the secret word. The audience member shouts out the letter and everyone gets up, dances some more and then moves into the next letter. When the word is done, everyone jumps up and finishes in a final pose and the audience must guess the word. Everyone gets a chance to be the audience (young kids might need a parent to help them spell the word).
Day 3: Dance Party
Equipment: Playlist of dance songs (let everyone in the family contribute at least one favourite song), costumes and props. This could be anything your kids think of, such as toys, hats, glitter lights, etc.
How to Play: To begin, pick your first DJ, who will choose a song and a dance theme. Each participant gets a turn as DJ. Once a song is chosen, everyone dances. You can add simple themes and games to the dances, such as “Freeze Dance” or “Hopping Dance,” and, for older kids, encourage them to choreograph a little routine to perform for the rest of the group.
Day 4: Outdoor Obstacle Course
Equipment: This course will use things that you already have in your backyard or outdoor play gear, strollers, wagons—whatever you have on hand that you can carry. If your backyard is very small, try this activity at your nearest park.
How to Play: Look around your backyard or outdoor space and pick areas where you will stop and do a specific activity. Exercises can include push-ups, sit-ups, two-leg hops, skipping, climbing, throwing a ball, kicking a ball and a balance activity. The course should take about five minutes to get through. Once you’ve done it a few times, try timing yourself and then try to improve your time on subsequent runs. To make it a team effort, add everyone’s time together and try to beat that total time for the next round—instead of kids comparing and competing against each other, they’ll be cheering each other on. You can also break into two groups: Let the first group make the course and take the second group through the course, then switch. Once they get used to the idea, kids will love designing the courses themselves.
Day 5: Find a New Playground and a New Healthy Place to Eat
How to: The end of the first week should be a reward day for your family. If possible, pick your kids up from school or daycare and plan to walk or drive to a playground that you’ve never been to before. If your kids are older and are not using playgrounds as much, hit up a recreation centre with free gym space, or an open field to play on. Bring a few balls or a Frisbee along to add some variety to your games.
Young kids love to explore a new playground for the first time—bring a healthy snack, too, to revive them after a long day of school. When you’re finished playing, head to a restaurant you’ve chosen together that’s new to you and serves health food. Remember that this meal is a celebration of your accomplishments this week: It should be fun for everyone.
Day 6: Morning Coffee Walk and Family Swim
Weekend Activity 1: Morning Walk to Your Local Coffee Shop
Equipment: A carrier, stroller or wagon for small kids
How to: When you all wake up, get dressed immediately and head outside. This is the first thing you do, before breakfast—just grab your sunglasses and a baseball hat and get out the door. Take a leisurely walk to your local coffee shop, or somewhere you can grab a coffee and a healthy snack, before you head home.
Weekend Activity 2: Swimming
Equipment: Bathing suits and towels, water wings or life jackets for novice swimmers
How to: Check out local rec centre’s schedules for open swims in advance so that you’re ready to go. Swimming is an essential physical skill for the safety and health of all kids and adults. If you are not a swimmer, start by investigating local swimming lessons and do a program as a family.
Day 7: Family Hike
Equipment: Comfortable footwear, appropriate clothing to be outside for at least an hour, full water bottle.
How to: Get out the door for this hike right after breakfast, before you get busy with weekend chores. Find an area surrounded by as much nature as possible. You may need to drive to a destination and then leave your car at the entrance to the hike.
Pack a healthy snack and plan to rest at your halfway point. Kids older than four years old will be able to walk for 90 minutes to two hours, with a planned break in the middle. If you have a toddler, bring a wagon or stroller along. They can walk for a while and then take a break when they are tired. Encourage kids to collect rocks, sticks or leaves to keep them engaged in the activity.
Next week’s first fitness activity: Obstacle Course Tweak