Healthy Family Challenge Fitness Plan: Week 2

Get your family excited about healthy active living with this weekly Healthy Family Challenge!

Photo: iStockphoto

This week, try to get out and jog or run with your family at least three times this week. It can be as simple as a stroll around the block, where you run one block and walk one block. Set up short races from one sign to the next or from one parked car to another. You can also do this activity on the way to or from daycare or school.

Day 8: Outdoor Obstacle Course Tweak

Equipment: Things that you already have in your backyard or outdoor play gear, strollers, wagons—whatever you have on hand that you can carry.

How to play: Try to build on the course that you created the previous week. Discuss what you remember from last week’s obstacle course with your kids, and ask them for ideas about how to make it a bit more challenging. If using a nearby park, incorporate playground structures, benches or big rocks and tree stumps.

Day 9: Games with Friends

Equipment: A few balls. Bring a few outdoor toys for toddlers, and if it’s snowy where you are, bring toboggans.

How to play: Set up a play date in advance with family or friends. When you meet, encourage the kids to play soccer or tag, or simply let them play on the playground equipment. Adjust your plan according to the weather, but remember, there’s rarely any “bad weather”—just poor clothing choices. Dress accordingly and you’ll be having fun in no time. Snow soccer, anyone?

Day 10: Skating and Hockey

Equipment: Skates, helmets, hockey sticks, a medium-sized ball.

How to play: This activity will require some planning—research when your local rinks have free ice time or family skating. If it’s an outdoor rink, you may be able to play hockey. Bringing a ball on the ice is a great activity for younger kids; they love trying to kick it with their skates. For motivation, plan for post-skating hot chocolate (or bring your own in an insulated carafe). Babies and toddlers may be able to go on the ice in a stroller (check before heading out), giving a non-confident parent or kid something to push for support while skating.

Day 11: Family Fun Run

Equipment: Water bottles, good running shoes

How to play: This activity is great for the whole family. Find a location with good running trails, preferably secluded in nature. (You may need to drive to this location.) The goal today is very simple: Try to complete 15 to 30 minutes of jogging. You will probably need many breaks, and it may take you an hour to get up to 30 minutes of jogging, with breaks in between.

Try to mix it up by running backwards, sideways, or jogging in a very straight line, racing to certain points and using different arm positions. This will make the time fly by for your kids.

Day 12: Everyone is a Coach

Equipment: Each “coach” can choose whatever they need from around the house, or use nothing at all.

How to play: Let your kids know about this activity early in the day. Each member of the family will get five to 15 minutes to coach the rest through a mini workout. This may include exercises from gym class at school, dancing, jumping, yoga, whatever they choose goes (as long as it is safe), because they’re the coach. Add to the fun by letting each coach pick their own music. These are the best kinds of workouts—you’ll be amazed at how much your kids know about exercise, and most children love to give their parents and siblings instructions. When toddlers and preschoolers get involved, things often turn giggly!

Day 13: Basketball

Equipment: A few basketballs. For younger kids, any type of medium-sized ball will work.

How to play: Find an outdoor court, or, if you live in a very cold climate, an indoor space with free gym time is great, too. The idea here is to learn how to be comfortable on a basketball court with a ball. Everyone can work on the basics together: bouncing the ball, throwing and catching it. Try to do all of the activities with both your dominant and non-dominant hands. With younger kids, play games that involve how high or how far you can throw the ball. With older kids, games like Bump and Horse are always a big hit.

Day 14: Follow-the-Leader and Hide-and-Seek

Equipment: You should not need any equipment for this, but consider bringing some healthy snacks.

How to Play: This activity is great for a day near the end of the week, when everyone is tired and you are looking for the least amount of resistance from your family. Playing with another family will get kids even more excited. These activities can be done in your backyard, on the school grounds or in a small park. Start with follow-the-leader as a warm-up activity.

Introduce animal movements into this game. Cues like, “Can you walk like a duck or bear?” and “Can you hop like a frog or rabbit?” are great ideas for young kids. When you are finished with follow-the-leader, finish with a game of hide-and-seek. Always make sure one parent is watching where everyone is hiding to ensure all kids stay safely within the boundaries of the game.

Next week’s first fitness activity: Urban Adventure

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