Those of us at home right now are doing a lot of sitting.
Kids aren’t walking to school, having gym class, running around at recess, or participating in organized sports. Adults can’t go to the gym or play in rec-league games. Even your mid-day walk to the coffee shop with co-workers has disappeared.
We all know that daily physical activity is important for a healthy mind and body. These days, though, getting any kind of workout requires some extra effort on our part. To get you and your family moving together, here are a bunch of ideas – both high-tech and tech-free. Not every idea will work for every family, but if you see something that sounds do-able for your team, give it a go!
Driveway sports camp. This simple slab of asphalt is now a multi-purpose facility for basketball, ball hockey, jump rope, and whatever else you can dream up. True story: a family on my street currently has a full-sized badminton net strung across their driveway.
Deck-of-cards boot camp. Choose four basic exercises, such as push-ups, sit-ups, jumping jacks and squats. Grab a standard deck of cards and remove the Jacks, Queens and Kings. Assign a suit to represent each exercise, then flip over a card to find out how many (Ace/1 to 10) reps everyone needs to do. Repeat until you’re all feeling the burn!
Dance revolution. Have a kitchen dance party, groove along to a dance video game, or recruit your family’s resident TikTok expert to teach everyone a routine. Renegade, anyone?
Wheeled adventures. Roll out on bikes, scooters, skateboards, or roller blades – just respect the rules of the road and travel only with members of your household.
Family stroll. A walk, just for the sake of walking, can be a tough sell to little kids. Sweeten the deal by letting them bring along an old stuffed animal or action figure for a tour of the neighbourhood. I once tied a string to a large toy car so my preschooler could drag it down the sidewalk. Anything to keep them moving.
Revved-up videos. If you haven’t already heard of it, there’s never been a better time to discover GoNoodle, a free online library of youthful, high-energy movement videos. Their funky dances and goofy songs are, in a word, irresistible.
Field day. First and foremost, respect any park or schoolyard closures that have occurred in your region. If you have a nearby field that is open for use, head over with your football, baseball glove or Frisbee. If not, your backyard is also a great place to kick a ball or blow some bubbles.
Calming stretches. If everyone needs to mellow out, head directly to the Cosmic Kids Yoga website. There, an enthusiastic British instructor named Jaime provides simple kid-friendly poses, woven in to popular themes like Pokemon, Frozen, Harry Potter, Star Wars and Minecraft.
Neighbourhood collaboration. Thank goodness for the heartwarming creativity behind ideas like cheerful sidewalk art and window scavenger hunts. Keep an eye on your community Facebook page in hopes of more to come.
Exergaming. Strap on those Wii controllers for some good-natured competition. Remember, sportsmanship is important – especially if the kids beat you!
Seasonal backyard time. If you still have snow (and we know some of you do), build a fort or set up some targets for snowball throwing. In milder climates, you can start raking and cleaning up the flower beds in anticipation of spring growth.
Wearable technology. Provide objective feedback on older kids’ activity levels by having them wear an activity tracker for the day, or use a GPS watch to measure the distance and pace of today's walk around the block.
Obstacle course. Set up a series of jumps, footwork patterns and balance challenges – better yet, have the kids design it. Have fun timing and taking videos of each other running the gauntlet.
Adapted indoor sports. Take your best three-point shot at a wastebasket or a mini over-the-door hoop (if you have one). Or, clear some space in the family room for a game of balloon volleyball.
Positive peer pressure. Some friendly “dare ya” posts are popping up on social media, like the #See10Do10 pushup challenge. Do your part and pass it on!
Home gym. This is a great time to dust off the treadmill and locate your collection of free weights and Dyna-Bands. Pull together whatever workout equipment you have to create simple, age-appropriate stations.
Hard-core cleaning. Divide and conquer chores like vaccuuming, sweeping, and delivering baskets of folded laundry. Someone can also take on the newly-added task of wiping down every light switch, doorknob and remote control in the house.
Dog walker schedule. The family pet is a great excuse to step out for some fresh air. Set up a partner system or rotating schedule so everyone gets a turn holding the leash.
Expert guidance. Download the free ParticipACTION app for tips, inspiration, and short “Fit Break” videos such as the “Family First Workout.” Shoe retailer Running Room is offering free, family-friendly virtual events, such as a Bingo scavenger hunt for your next family walk.
Anti-gravity work. Short on time? Crank your favourite song and run up and down the stairs until you’re breathing hard. If doing this as a group, keep things safe by using the railing, controlling your pace, and staying to the right at all times.
Remember, any activity is better than sitting… so get creative and get moving!