Written by Marguerita Cheng

Getting your family off the couch is tough. When you add in smartphones, tablets, and other mobile gadgets, it seems impossible. But don’t let that deter your efforts! You know exercise is essential for your family's health. From lowering risks of disease, controlling weight, and helping kids perform better in school, it has many benefits.

With the warm weather finally here, here are 13 top tips to energize your family for fitness.

1. Go Outside (Energizing the Family)

After a long winter, the fresh air of summer is a welcome change. It’s time to trade your skis and snowboards for hiking boots and roller skates! When you take your family outside, it opens up hundreds of fitness possibilities. All you need is a sense of adventure. Collecting shells on the beach, exploring a local hiking trail, or a good old-fashioned game of tag can get your family moving.

2. Minimize Screen Time

With nearly 24/7 access to technology, kids and families have more screen time than ever before. A Kaiser Family Foundation study found that kids between the ages of eight and 18 spend more than seven hours a day using entertainment media on average. With that much screen time, you’re sure to find a few minutes each day for fitness.

3. Schedule It

There’s no doubt about it: life is busy. Between soccer practice, school events, and getting dinner on the table, you’re always on the go. But fitness is important, and that’s why scheduling it ahead of time can help you stick to it. Schedule it on the calendar and try not to commit to anything else.

4. Take a Walk (Energizing the Family)

Family fitness doesn’t have to be complicated. Something as simple as going for a walk together is enough to get the heart pumping. If you have a dog, make sure to take them along. Your four-legged friend will love the exercise, and your kids can take turns holding the leash.

5. Family Challenge or Competition

Getting your family to participate in a fitness challenge should be pretty easy, even if they’re not the competitive type. You might try a jump rope or hula hoop competition to see who can last the longest. Before you begin, pick something to hand out as a prize to the winner. Something as simple as letting the winner to experience chore free day can be exciting.

6. Get Fit for a Cause (Energizing the Family)

Signing up for a charitable 5k can motivate your family to give their all to support the cause. This could also include a few workouts to make sure your family is physically ready for the event. It’s an excellent way to encourage health and support your community, too. In fact, my youngest daughter and I participate in 5k runs in our community. I coached Girls on the Run for 5 seasons. (You don’t have to include this)

7. Try Golf

Golf is a favorite pastime for some adults. Try taking your kids out on the course and let them see how different it is than mini-golf. If you skip the golf cart, you’ll rack up more points for fitness, though that isn’t the best option if you have little ones in tow.

8. Fitness-Themed Video Game

Kids love video games. To get them up and moving around, try one that centers around physical fitness. Whether you have an Xbox or PlayStation, you’ll have plenty of options. A few popular games to check out include Just Dance, Kinect Sports, Wii Fit, the Biggest Loser, and Zumba Fitness.

9. Give Tennis a Try (Energizing the Family)

Like golf, tennis is a great way to get fit while having fun. Playing doubles or teams can get your whole family involved. A lot of parks have tennis courts to take advantage of, or you could buy a net from a sporting goods store to put up in your driveway at home.

10. Make Chores Fun

No one likes chores, right? Finding ways to make them fun can encourage your family to join in. Try hiding treats, stickers, or coins under knickknacks or couch cushions as a reward for cleaning up. Or you could play Go Fish with a basket full of mismatched socks.

11. Go for a Bike Ride

Most kids love going for bike rides. Getting your bikes out and dusting them off can lead to a fun activity for your family. Check out a local trail in your neighborhood or go around the block. Either way, it’s a great way to have fun while getting fit.

12. Create Healthy Habits and Hobbies

If you’ve always wanted to try racquetball or take up practicing yoga, why wait? Check out the local fitness center to ask about racquetball lessons or see if there’s a free yoga class in your community. Life is busy with kids, but starting now can help create healthy habits and hobbies for your family.

13. Have a Dance Party

Having a dance party doesn’t have to be fancy. Turn on some good music and slide the coffee table or chair out of the way to make an impromptu dance floor. Invite your family to join in to get your heart rate up. You could even turn it into a competition to see who has the best dance moves.

Keep Your Family Active

If your family isn’t already active, asking them to change their habits might be difficult at first. Start by keeping it simple with an old-school game like hide and seek, hula hoop, or jump rope. For indoor activities, investing in a video game with a fitness-themed might be a good option. Once you start, your family is sure to enjoy the extra time together.

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