Dads often have the reputation of being “the fun parent”. This is kind-of a superpower, if you think about it, since it turns almost anything Dad suggests into a fun family event. Even family fitness!
Dads are also often labelled as the fitness fanatic in a family. Now, we know this is not always true. But having a love for sports and outdoor activities is a great thing – especially if it can be passed on to your kids.
We all know that regular exercise is important to both mental and physical growth and development. What many of us may not know, though, is that family time of ANY kind is actually key to the development of healthy young adults.
Spending time together as a family creates a safe and nurturing space in which to share your philosophy of life, and teach your children how to live a balanced, meaningful life. Creating happy memories while doing healthy things will train your children’s neural pathways to connect the good feelings that result with the physical activity. In this simple way, you can build healthy habits that will last your kids a lifetime.
What’s more, when your children get to share your life in practical ways, watching as you overcome every day challenges with grace and dignity, they learn life skills that stand them in good stead for the rest of their days. They also gain a sense of being part of something significant, which is a key component of a healthy self esteem.
To kick-start your family fun time, here are some of our favourite tips.
6 Great Family Exercise Ideas
Go for Walks
One of the easiest ways to get fit and healthy is also one of the simplest: go for a walk. Get up a little earlier and take the family out to enjoy the sunrise. Too early? Grab a couple of bottles of water and get stepping just after supper.
If you have a dog – take the dog. Pets need exercise, too. And walking the dog is a fun excuse to get outside and enjoy the neighborhood (and each other’s company!).
Regular gentle exercise boosts confidence and reduces stress. It also goes a long way to fighting lifestyle diseases like diabetes and heart disease, by keeping weight levels normal and toning the body.
Get Down and Boogie
We’ve all got our favourite songs – those ones that we just can’t help dancing to when they come onto the radio. Why not pick a night and make it Dance Night? Line up a few of your favourite tunes, crank up the volume, and let loose!
Dance like no one’s watching. And laugh until your eyes water.
Dancing increases your heart rate, which boosts metabolism and helps burn excess dietary calories. It can also help improve hand-eye coordination, which is key during those early growing years.
Dads, if you dance with your kids, you teach your sons the confidence to express themselves without fear of judgment, and you teach your daughters the joy of the love of a really good man. What better foundation could you lay for these young lives?
Whip out your 007 spy moves and sneak some activity in when no one’s watching. We’ve already mentioned walking the dog. What about taking on a fun garden design project or planting a veggie patch? The exercise combined with time in the sun and fresh air can only do them (and you) the world of good.
Another idea is to park further from your destination, and walk the rest of the way. Whether it’s a trip to school, the mall, or a friend’s house, find a safe parking spot a few blocks from where you’re headed, hop out, and take a gentle amble the rest of the way. At the shopping mall, don’t park in the closest parking bay to the shopping centre doors – find one on the other side of the parkade, and walk.
Make Chores Fun
Okay, we can hear you groaning from here. No one likes chores. They’re a necessary part of adult life, and the sooner we teach our children the value of doing them regularly, the easier their lives will be.
Chores can be fun!
1. Make cleaning up a game, with rewards for each level of achievement. For example, making the bed (properly) could earn an extra five minutes of story time before bed.
2. Family website parents.com has a great tip for making a game out of household activities:
“Pretend that dust creatures are invading earth and it’s up to Captain [insert child’s name] to save the day by capturing them with his broom, suggests registered dietitian Juliet Zuercher of Wickenburg, Arizona. “Make believe he’s one of the Rescue Heroes, and have him save his teddy bears from the slimy pit of the floor by putting them safely in his toy chest,” she says. Jodi Arlen of Bethesda, Maryland, turns folding laundry into a guessing game. “It started when my daughter would ask, ‘Is that mine?’ and it grew into ‘Guess whose this is!’” she says. After her daughters, 3 years old and 20 months old, correctly identify the clothing, they help fold them.”
3. Put on the music while your kids are washing the dishes, and let the rhythm get them moving while they work.
Move for Charity
People need purpose. They crave it. Without a sense of purpose, one starts to feel adrift and aimless. On the other hand, with a higher purpose to work towards, one feels driven. Life has meaning.
Psychology Today explains it in more detail:
“The need for purpose is one of the defining characteristics of human beings. Human beings crave purpose, and suffer serious psychological difficulties when we don’t have it. Purpose is a fundamental component of a fulfilling life.”
Many charities run events that include a physical component. A Walk for Cancer, for example, is a great way to get active with your family, while also expanding their worldview and motivating them (and you) to get fit for something bigger. Charity sports events make moving meaningful.
In honour of Father’s Day, June is Men’s Health month. We hope that these top tips will make it easy for you and your family to get fit, have fun, and live a long and healthy life.