Back-To-School Fitness Challenge Ideas
As parents, it's tough to find time for fitness and even tougher when you have to incorporate it into your children's routine. Not only does exercise keep your family fit and looking good, it also reduces the risk of long term physical and mental health problems. With the start of the school year and fall sports, your family may be in need of a kick start for good exercise habits. Here are some fitness challenge ideas for the whole family.
Ease Into It
Take it easy to start. You don't want to do too much too soon, so making time and effort each day to walk or bike is the ideal exercise. They don't have to be difficult activities that require sweatpants -- you just want to get moving. To make it challenging, set goals. You can have each member of the family pledge to take 10,000 steps per day for the first week or have them walk for an hour each day. If you're biking, start off by going on daily bike rides with the family to a park or favorite restaurant. They're easy tasks to complete as a family that gently burn calories and serve a base for more rigorous activities to work your way up to.
After a week of walking or biking, work some high-impact cardio into your routine. Don't stop walking -- the cardio is just an addition to get your heart pumping. You can do this by running, jumping rope, skipping, or jumping jacks. Do this for 10 to 15 minutes before breakfast or dinner, right after work or you can even move living room furniture so you can exercise while you watch TV or read. To make it a challenge, increase the number of jumps or time spent each day on each exercise. It's easier to do than you think -- the hardest part of it is just getting started.
After two weeks of your new exercise routine, work in regular games to include the whole family two or three times a week. Play doubles tennis, a game of basketball or even a game or disc golf and turn it into a weekly or monthly tournament. Getting the whole family together to play makes it seem less like exercise and more like quality time -- not only are you burning calories and getting healthy, but you're also bonding with your children.
In addition to burning calories and improving your cardiovascular health, start strengthening your muscles. You don't have to lift weights for your family to get strong -- there are other ways to get similar results. On the days you aren't playing games as a family, start your strength training. Make a contest out of doing push ups and pull ups to make it interesting. A few days a week of strength training in addition to your other exercises can get the family on track for good health.
The Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 60 minutes per day of exercise to maintain good health, but exercise routines are never easy to get started. Making it part of activities to do with the family may take some of the burden out of getting active -- and it's worth it to stay healthy and spend time with the family.