Research shows that exercise relieves stress, prevents obesity and increases selfconfidence. And when it comes to exercise, kids learn from their parents – so make fitness part of the family routine. The key is to keep it simple and fun for everyone.
Circuit training is the perfect family workout. It incorporates cardiovascular and strength exercises with fun activities that kids and parents will love. The following circuit program is designed for all fitness levels and can be easily adapted for any skill level. Best of all, you can do it just about anywhere.
First, pick up to five exercises from the station examples listed below (or make up your own):
Have a dedicated space (station) to perform each exercise.
Pick one family member to be the time keeper who will tell everyone when to start and stop each exercise.
Begin with a warm-up, like jogging or marching in place, for two to three minutes.
Start each family member at a different exercise station. Keep in mind that some stations involve two or more people.
When the timekeeper says, “Go” everyone perfoms their exercise for 60 seconds. When time is up, the timekeeper will say “Next station”. Take a 15-second break before rotating to the next station. As you become stronger and your endurance improves, you can increase your exercise time to two minutes at each station and increase your overall workout time.
Repeat the circuit until you get in a good 20 minutes of activity. Adding upbeat music will help you and your kids stay motivated. Finally, finish with a five-minute cool down and stretch.
As always, consult your family doctor before beginning any exercise program.
(1 or more people) Hold the hula hoop around your waist, with it touching your lower back. Slightly bend your knees and give it a good spin, using your hands. As the hoop circles around you, shift your weight back and forth, wiggling your hips. This will keep the hoop moving, so it won’t slide down. If the hoop falls, don’t be disheartened – start again. The aim is to keep moving. For a bit of extra fun, see who can get the highest number of ‘hulas’.
(2 or more people) A game of Frisbee is always filled with fancy throws, dives and catches. It will make everyone smile – and run! Mark a long line on the ground with chalk or a piece of rope and position two players facing each other on opposite sides of the line. Pass the Frisbee back and forth simultaneously. For older kids, have them move farther apart with each ‘pass and catch’.
(1-2 people) Handball can be played against almost any wall, or between two players. Any large, soft ball can be used, such as a tennis ball. When playing handball, players cannot grab or hold the ball; they should only touch the ball briefly.
(2 or more people) Players stands around 20 feet away from one another and toss the ball back and forth. Toss underhanded and remain stationary for younger children; increase the distance and throw overhand for older children, as it will allow them to be more active and mobile. This is a great way to develop good hand-eye coordination and athletic fundamentals.
(1 person) The player tosses the marker (typically a stone or coin) into the first square. The player then hops through the course, skipping the marked square. Single squares must be hopped on one foot. Once the sequence has been completed successfully, the player continues the course by tossing the marker into the second square and repeating the exercise.
(1 person) Jumping rope is a great skill for children to learn. It improves strength and confidence in physical activities and builds healthy bones and muscles. Start off slowly, and build up speed as you build confidence.
Game of tag
(2 or more people) A game of tag can be adapted to your family’s size, ability and age ranges. The objective is for the player who is ‘it’ to catch somebody else, who then becomes ‘it’. Try inventing your own rules, such as the tagged person has to do five star jumps before they can come back ‘in’.