Family gatherings can be many things, but they usually aren’t as active as they could be. Getting everyone motivated to exercise can feel like an insurmountable task. Plus, you encounter other issues: “The opportunity to do a workout as a family often does not get started because of the varying levels of ages and abilities of the family members,” says Chris Clough, a NSCA certified personal trainer. To combat such barriers, these ideas can help families — with young kids, grandparents or only adults — incorporate physical fitness into their tradition this season.
IF YOU HAVE YOUNG KIDS…
“Kids can teach parents a thing or two, especially when it comes to play,” says Ryan Swift, a certified personal trainer and founder of MYOS, an app that pairs trainers with health-conscious individuals looking for a great workout.. “Children’s games are great exercises, and chances are the kids will outrun everyone.” He suggests:
- Marco Polo: This pool game can burn up to 400 calories in 30 minutes.
- Duck-duck-goose or games of freeze tag are worthy cardio choices.
- Chasing your children around the backyard can burn close to 200 calories in 30 minutes (weather permitting).
- “Follow the leader” can challenge your family to copy specific body movements that test muscle endurance.
BIKE THE NEIGHBORHOOD
If the weather is warm enough, taking a slow bike ride provides everyone with fresh air and helps decrease holiday stress. To stay safe, Rushi Shahiwala, a physical therapist and orthopedic clinical specialist at the NY Sports Science Lab, provides his expert tips for family cycling:
- Follow the traffic rules: The basic rules are to ride on the right side of road in the same direction as other vehicles. Use hand signals when turning.
- Consider a bike fitting for your children. If your children are new to bike riding, make sure their toes touch the ground while seated on the bike. Do not buy a larger sized bike and wait for the children to grow into it, but rather fit the bike for their age, height, etc.
- Choose safety gear: The Torch T2 bike helmet, which is designed with 10 integrated LED lights on the front and rear, keeps a family of cyclists safe.
- Bike mechanics: Make sure you analyze your bike and your children’s bikes for safety. Check the tire pressure, the brakes and look for any other potential mechanical failures.
IF YOU HAVE ADULT CHILDREN OR GUESTS…
PURCHASE A GROUP TRAINING SESSION
Swift says trainers typically offer discounts for group sessions, making this an affordable fitness option for the holidays. “Explain to your trainer that you want to incorporate a variety of exercises and stations in the session to ensure that no one in your group gets bored with the workout.”
GO TO A GROUP CLASS
“This is an excellent way to try a new activity, which can be a bonding experience for the family and a way to keep fit,” says personal trainer Nathan DeMetz. If each member has differing interests, “rotating classes might be ideal.” He recommends trying one class for a few sessions, and then moving on to someone else’s choice, “giving each member of the family a chance to pick a class.”
IF THE GRANDPARENTS COME TO VISIT…
TURN ON THEIR ERA OF MUSIC AND DANCE
“Music has the power to make anyone get up and move, including grandma and grandpa,” says Swift. He suggests putting on classic, high-energy songs, as aerobic dancing can burn up to 400 calories an hour.
OR DO CALISTHENICS
DeMetz says basic calisthenics, such as pushups and air-squats, work because they’re “nearly infinitely adjustable for skill level and physical ability.” For example, if someone the family cannot perform a pushup, an alternative exercise could be to complete a plank-to-pushup variation. A family member skilled at the pushup might consider a wall-supported handstand pushup.
Try starting your calisthenics’ workout with a warmup. “Dynamic warmups can be part of a fun session with family members,” says Clough. “I’ve had the chance to work with families, and nothing gets the kids motivated like trying to keep up with mom and dad.” Or vice versa.