How to hang out with kids and exercise at the same time?
June 22, 2010 2:28 PM   Subscribe

What are your favorite ways to exercise with your kids?

When I get home from work, I'm loathe to head back out the door to exercise alone, and thus neglect my kids; I also want to give my partner a break from childcare. I have managed to get my older son to ride his scooter while I run, and go to the park for jump roping and sprinting (races, to him). But he's losing interest in some of this, the more I suggest it.

I'd love to get some more ideas to get us motivated to get some exercise together. The best ideas will work for younger kids (say, elementary school age) and don't involve extended trips (ie hiking in the mountains is great, but not practical for after work). The exercise doesn't need to be super intense.

I would love your ideas for stuff I can do with my kids that gets me some exercise and gets them having fun. Variety is great and keeps the kids interested, so the more ideas the better. Thanks.
posted by bluedaisy to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (16 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Sliding in the winter!
posted by ODiV at 2:29 PM on June 22, 2010

We took up bowling as a family last summer because it was so damn hot outside. Kids seem to love it. Might be a better weekend thing though, as it takes a couple hours to go, bowl, and come home.
posted by Devils Rancher at 2:38 PM on June 22, 2010

- kick around a soccer ball

- swim, or make up games in the water if they don't swim (How many times can Daddy carry me around the pool?)

- Depending on the size of your kid(s), you can attach a tow bar to an adult bicycle

- If your kid(s) are really small, get a trailer.

- Go on a neighborhood-specific "scavenger" hunt. Make a list of things you might see in your neighborhood (a cardinal, a blue car, a white house, etc.). Go out for a walk and try to find everything on the list.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 2:38 PM on June 22, 2010

We really love playing Wii Fit games together. Great for rainy days.

My girls are also pretty crazy about yoga, and will take it pretty seriously so long as I don't try to push them too long or too hard--a beginning-to-intermediate video lasting about 45 minutes is perfect, and if it ends in giggles instead of savasana, oh well.

For kids who are learning to ride two wheelers but may not be able to keep up with grownups for long, I would look into investing in a FollowMe rather than the more common Trailabike type attachment. I wish I had; it would be great if my younger daughter could ride until she was tired, then we could hook her up and let her trail.
posted by padraigin at 2:49 PM on June 22, 2010

Tandem bikes? Kite flying, frisbee, basketball. Badminton is God's sport. It's like a mix between tennis and sleep.

Do you have a dog? Playing with the dog, walking the dog is great.

Miniature golf in the yard, croquet, bocce?

They make giant ridiculous bubble wands and super soakers -- those are probably endless good times.

That's all I've got. Our kid is so little so we just chase her around trying to get our electronics away from her.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 2:50 PM on June 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

We used to throw around a frisbee or kick a soccer ball. The other version of this is to play catch with a softball or tennis ball. I still do this stuff sometimes with my boyfriend and definitely gets my heart rate up (particularly when our aim is off so you have to run for the frisbee).

If there's an appropriate wall around then hitting a tennis ball against it can be good too. You can either hit to each other or have a ball each, depending on skill level. Can be done with a racquet or by hand.

Oh. Or swingball! We had a set something like this.
posted by shelleycat at 2:56 PM on June 22, 2010

You can do what you're doing now, just modify it to make it more fun. Do timed laps and keep track of best times, or buy pedometers and chart how much you've walked/run, then chart it on a map. "Hey son/daughter, do you know in this past month we've walked 27 miles, as far as grandma's house!"
posted by NoraCharles at 3:08 PM on June 22, 2010

Bike rides with a Trail-a-Bike or actual trailer, for sure. Off-road if they're on their own bikes - kids are easily bored by road rides. Running at the track is nice because you're always within sight of each other even when you're running vastly different speeds - or they can play with balls or frisbees in the infield while you run, too. My kids like indoor climbing. They can't belay me yet, but we can take turns bouldering and I can belay them.

We used to design "obstacle courses" at the local playground and time each other running them. Something like "up the slide, across the monkey bars, around the swings and back to this mark in the gravel." The kids were incredibly motivated by that. The nice thing about timing it is that kids can compete with themselves rather than each other or you.

And my boys are actually pretty OK with just plain exercise without any sugar-coating. I've drilled it into their heads that eating good food and doing hard things makes you stronger, and they're motivated by that even as young as 4. My 8- and 11-year-olds found that concept sufficiently motivating to complete a sprint-distance triathlon earlier this year.
posted by richyoung at 3:30 PM on June 22, 2010

Try some old fashioned toys: roller skates, pogo stick, stilts, unicycle.

Volunteer work: Is there someplace in your neighborhood that needs to be cleaned up once a month - like trash at the park or help an elderly neighbor mow or rake?

I liked Pickle in the Middle as a kid - my 2 older brothers stood a distance apart and played catch with a baseball, all the little girls tried running back and forth between the 2 bases and tried not to let them tag us before we touched the base. I suspect after a while they they didn't try too hard and were just playing catch while the girls ran around.

A big game of hide and seek in the neighborhood. Be sure to set boundaries.

Tag games: freeze tag, statue tag, robot tag

Races: crawling race, hop on one foot race, sidesteps, giant steps, baby steps, walking race, cartwheels

Gymnastics/track and field: cartwheels, somersaults, back-somersaults, round-offs, flying leaps, long jumps, shot put, javelin throw (use a broomstick)

Building something - big like a clubhouse or small like a birdhouse or a shelf or a treasure box. Paint a fence. Dig a garden. Let them play in the mud after you dig but you before you plant.
posted by CathyG at 3:52 PM on June 22, 2010

Get a basketball hoop and play everybody against Dad.
posted by CathyG at 3:53 PM on June 22, 2010

Tai Chi in the yard.
posted by tigrefacile at 4:33 PM on June 22, 2010

Yeah, for me it was always biking. We were lucky enough to live maybe 5 km from a bunch of old logging roads (hard packed dirt/gravel, lots of potholes). It was always a great time. Except when I'd inevitably (once per summer) go face over handlebars, but at least I got used to pain / chicks dig scars.

In the winter, cross-country skiing or snowshoeing? All of that is dependent on living in the right area, sorry.
posted by Lemurrhea at 4:46 PM on June 22, 2010

posted by and hosted from Uranus at 5:20 PM on June 22, 2010

Go for walks with them, either as an end in themselves or to run small errands. Talk with and listen to them about what's important in their lives, with plenty of room for silences and non-sequiturs.
posted by thatdawnperson at 6:14 PM on June 22, 2010

You can put on some dance music and invite them to disco with you. If you have the space outdoors, pitch balls and be the outfielder too, running to each one.
posted by lakeroon at 7:39 PM on June 22, 2010

Kids (and adults) love geocaching. It's a treasure hunting game to be played outside. If you're not familiar with it I'd reccomend visiting this site and watching the video on the homepage.
posted by FairlyFarley at 8:43 PM on June 22, 2010 [2 favorites]

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