Getting fit, feeling good and staying healthy

Five fun ways to get your family fit

By Brenda Spiering, Editor,

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Having trouble inspiring your kids to get off the couch and go outdoors? Lack the motivation to go to the gym? You’re not alone. Five fun ways to get your family fitWe’re all aware of the benefits of regular physical activity. But exercising can often seem more like work than fun. It shouldn’t. With a little imagination, there are many fun ways you and your family can become more active. To provide you with some inspiration, we asked five active moms to share a few of the creative ways they get their families moving.

1. Go geocaching (a high-tech version of hide and seek)

Rebecca Brown, a Toronto mother of two and the creative director of Bunch Family, a website dedicated to sharing fun things families can do together, recommends the sport of geocaching. “Creativity is critical when trying to engage kids who live in today’s ‘screen culture,’” says Brown. “With geocaching, you bring your screen along.” What you actually bring along is a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver to log the coordinates of the location where you hide an item. Other players then use those coordinates to search for it. Go online and you can discover multiple websites devoted to the activity. You can also obtain the coordinates of geocaches you can search for in your region that have been hidden by others. It’s a fun way to become more active and explore new areas. Don’t have a GPS? A good old-fashioned, low-tech treasure hunt can be just as fun.

2. Unleash your inner architect

Liv Marken, a mother of two living in Saskatoon, has invented an activity that not only excites her daughter, but has her asking to do it again and again — building fairy houses. The goal is for the family to work together to collect items such as sticks, leaves, moss and bark to construct little houses for fairies to live in. The concept is charming, and adds a whimsical element to a trip to the park or an afternoon at the cottage. “And it’s not just for girls,” says Marken. “My son enjoys constructing the little houses, too.”

3. Give dance a chance

Toronto mother of three, Mary Russell, says her favourite way to get the family moving is to dig out her old Michael Jackson Thriller album, push back the couch and start rocking. She says, “It’s a great way to share old favourites with the kids, and our little ones always want to get in on the action. Before you know it, we’ve had as good a workout as we’d have had at the gym.” Be forewarned, however: No matter how much they may secretly love the music, older kids may be more likely to run and hide than dance with their mom and dad. Instead, check if your local community centre offers a jazz or breakdancing class they may be interested in.

4. Encourage budding scientists

It isn’t only archeologists in far-flung regions of the world who can uncover ancient fossils. The shores of the Great Lakes can be a treasure trove for aspiring collectors. Toronto mom, Shona Hall, has fond memories of hunting for fossils as a child along the shores of Lake Ontario. Now a mother of two and Georgian Bay cottager, searching for fossils has become a regular part of her family’s summertime outer-island picnics. “We even bring along prizes for those who find the best ones,” says Hall. “It keeps the kids active for hours and, who knows, may even inspire them to become future scientists.”

5. Play a motion-tracking video game

Elaine Vera, a Montreal-based mom, says she decided, “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.” Tired of watching her two sons spend hours sitting on the sofa playing traditional video games, she went out and bought an interactive tennis game that got them up and moving. The boys’ grandmother even gets in on the action when she comes to visit. “They may be able to outrun her on a real court, but she holds her own and gets a pretty good workout herself when she plays them on-screen,” says Vera.

Whatever you choose to do, adding physical activity into family time doesn’t need to involve intense planning or structured classes. Build on what your family already likes to do and have fun — it’s a great first step to a healthier lifestyle.

Get moving on June 6, National Health and Fitness Day.

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