A Family That Plays Together Stays Together

Our children are being raised in a world much busier than the one we grew up in. Schedules are so full that multi-tasking is a normal process for them. They eat dinner in the car on the way to practice and memorize their spelling words while emptying the dishwasher. Family time has been reduced to winding down in front of the TV at the end of a long day.

It’s time to put our multi-tasking skills to better use and bring back an interactive family time. Get up off the couch, shut off the screens and enjoy some family time fitness. Can’t think of anything to do? Keep reading for a little inspiration.

Family Fun Runs – Sign up the family for a 5K walk/run in your area. These family friendly courses lead participants through colored foam, glo paint, mud and even obstacle courses. While many events are connected to charity fundraising, some of them are just for fun.

Laser tag – This adrenaline raising activity is a great rainy day plan for families. Players wear lightweight targeted vests and carry a “loaded” laser gun. Played in a semi dark room with plenty of places to hide, teams try to hit their opponents target and get points for each hit.

Hiking – Local forest preserves and state parks offer trails with various levels of difficulty. Park district jogging paths often include fitness stations along the pathway. Pack some water, a snack and the family dog for an afternoon of family fun.

Pull out the bikes – Many of the local trails are set up for bikes as well. Let the kids ride their own bicycle or bring them along in a bike trailer if they are younger. Cycling 10-12 mph burns 30-45 calories per mile depending on your weight.

Trampoline arena – While it looks like a lot of fun, jumping on a trampoline uses a lot of energy. In addition to simple trampoline jumping, many arenas include dodge ball courts and air-robics classes.

Explore your city – On a recent trip to the city, our family spent the day exploring on foot. We walked an incredible six miles while sightseeing, shopping and snapping pictures. Although the city is filled with transportation options, we didn’t want to miss anything. Walking burns 100 calories per mile, leaving plenty of room for a guilt free dinner.

Pick-up games – Even the busiest of families can find time for a 30 minute pick-up game. Challenge a neighboring family to a quick game of soccer at the park or basketball in the driveway. Other family games include volleyball, kickball or Frisbee golf.

Get out on the water – Rent a canoe, rowboat, kayak or paddleboats for a little exercise and inexpensive fun. Did you know that paddling uses 7 muscle groups including arms, shoulders and core?

Fun on the ice – If the weather isn’t cooperating at the outdoor skate park, head to the ice rink to cool your heels. Ice rinks often have weekend and evening open skate times and offer family fun packages. If you prefer wheels over blades, check out the local roller rink instead.

Video games – Yes, you read it right. I am encouraging family fitness in the form of a video game. Try Wii Just Dance, Wii Fit Plus, Kinect Sports for Xbox or Sports Champion for PS3. The kids will love the opportunity to play with their game systems and their parents will like the games that get them off the couch.


Pam Molnar is a freelance writer and mother of three busy teens. They are a multi-tasking family who combines fitness and family time whenever possible.


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