Mom, dad, child, teen—every demographic in America has something in common: at all ages, many of us simply aren’t exercising. Less than 5 percent of adults fit in 30 minutes of movement per day, and only one-third of kids spend time being physically active every day, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.
So cue Sister Sledge. Whether you’re having trouble finding time to work out with kids running around or the whole fam has lost its movement mojo now that school is back in session, it’s time to start training together.
Sure, the little ones may be too short for box jumps or too high-energy for your go-to pilates class, but hikes, capture the flag and make-at-home obstacles courses are fun for the whole family. Or you can sign up for an in-the-mud obstacle course event like Tough Mudder, which offers course distances for all athletic abilities and ages, plus some serious training motivation (and Kodak moments).
Considering the CDC recommends children and adolescents engage in 60 minutes or more of physical activity every day, making it feel like play is the key. “A family that plays together, stays together. If that play looks like training or working out, even better!” says Grayson Wickham, DPT, CSCS, founder of Movement Vault. Kids model what they see, so if they see you enjoying exercising, it’ll influence how they think about fitness. Don’t call it a “workout”— call it “playtime,” Wickham suggests.
“When you make it fun, you’re teaching them to have a lifelong love of fitness, something that means a lot when childhood obesity (and obesity in general) is such a huge national issue,” says Wickham. And of course there are many other health benefits. “There’s no pill that comes close to what exercise can do,” he says.
Beyond having a good time and getting healthier, working out with the fam gives little ones an opportunity to succeed every time they’re active, which helps build confidence and leadership skills. As for the relationship-building benefits? We’ll call those happy byproducts.
Oh, and if you want to join in the family workout fun but don’t have a kiddo, feel free to sub in your dog. Pups play too (especially in the mud).
Want to get some family fitness inspo? Follow @tough_mudder.