Fitness ideas for the entire family

Exercising as a family benefits everyone. As you work toward your own fitness goals, you set an excellent example for your children of committing to their own physical activity. So get creative and find ways to be active together, from playing tag with your toddler to rock climbing with your teen.

By Danielle P. Johnson, P.T.

If you're a parent, getting into the habit of exercising as a family will benefit both you and your children. As you work toward your own fitness goals, you'll set an excellent example for your children of committing to their own physical activity.

Want to make exercise and family time a top priority? You can do both — just combine the two to maximize your time. In fact, merging the two is a necessity for many busy parents. Here are some ideas for incorporating physical activity at every stage of your kids' lives.

Toddlers to preschoolers

Acknowledge and take advantage of the fact that your child is now on the move.

  • Explore a playground where you can run with your child. Remember, you can play on the playground equipment, too! If your child wants to swing, use that time to get in a few squats and lunges. If the playground has a jungle gym, try some pullups, chin-ups or pushups.
  • Play active games such as soccer, football or tag.
  • Make up your own family game that involves a unique combination of jumping, sprinting, lunging, squatting and crawling. You'll get your heart rate up and incorporate some body weight resistance exercise.
  • Create a scavenger hunt and race your child to finish the tasks.

School-age kids

Explore the world with your child. Get involved in the things they enjoy doing.

  • Take a walk or hike in nature. Not only will you all get great exercise, but without any electronics around, your child might enjoy talking to you.
  • Invest in bikes and explore your city or town for new routes. Ride your bike or walk to lunch or dinner with the family.
  • Dance. Just do it — let loose with your kids, have fun and get some great aerobic activity. Put on music your kids like (or some old-school rock they will laugh at) and get moving.
  • Swim. When you go to the pool with your children, get in. Running in the shallow end and swimming in a pool are great ways to combine aerobic activity with family fun.
  • Get involved in a sport that your kids can enjoy, such as tennis, basketball or soccer.
  • Plan vacations in destinations that encourage outdoor activities. Find a vacation spot where you can ski, hike, surf or go rock climbing.

Wherever you go, look for opportunities to add more physical activity to your family life. You'll enjoy time with each other and set your children up with healthy habits for the future.


Try these suggestions to create family fitness fun.

  1. Sit down with your kids and make a family activity plan.
  2. Head outdoors for some exercise two times this week.
  3. Try a family yoga session.
Jan. 01, 2017 See more In-depth

See also

  1. Slide show: 5 smart exercise choices for psoriatic arthritis
  2. 6 tips for an active getaway you'll remember
  3. Accentuate the positive to make lasting health changes
  4. An appointment to exercise? You bet!
  5. Are you ready for a workout?
  6. Balance training: Boost your long-term health with these exercises
  7. Barriers to fitness
  8. Blood Doping
  9. Body fat analyzers
  10. Boot camp workout
  11. The role of diet and exercise in preventing Alzheimer's disease
  12. Core exercises
  13. Create a home gym without breaking the bank
  14. Did you exercise today? Reward yourself!
  15. Toning shoes
  16. Does fitness trump thinness?
  17. Don't have an exercise budget? Go cheap!
  18. Dress smart for winter workouts
  19. Early bird or night owl? Plan exercise accordingly
  20. Exercise benefits
  21. Exercise and chronic disease
  22. Exercise and illness
  23. Stress relief
  24. Exercise: Every minute counts!
  25. Exercising with arthritis
  26. Exercise smarter, not longer
  27. Exercise: Check with your doctor
  28. Exercising regularly? Track your progress!
  29. Fitness program
  30. Fitness: Take it 1 step at a time
  31. Fitness motivation
  32. Fitness ball exercises videos
  33. Fitness barriers: Bust 'em
  34. Fitness for less
  35. Fitness program
  36. Fitness takes more than huffing and puffing
  37. Fitness tip: Get physical at home
  38. Fitness tip: Get physical at work
  39. Fitness tip: Include your friends
  40. Fitness training routine
  41. Fitting in fitness
  42. Getting in shape after having a baby
  43. Going up? Take the stairs
  44. Golf injuries
  45. Golfers: Know when to call it quits
  46. Golfers: Tee up common sense
  47. Hanging out with friends? Activity counts!
  48. Hate to exercise? Try these tips
  49. Heart rate
  50. Heat and exercise
  51. Hockey Flywheel
  52. How fit are you?
  53. How much exercise do you really need?
  54. Improve obstructive sleep apnea with physical activity
  55. 3 easy ways to get started with yoga
  56. Is exercise a chore? No more!
  57. Keep your workout fun
  58. Know when to move your winter workout indoors
  59. Late-day exercise
  60. Marathon and the Heat
  61. BMI and waist circumference calculator
  62. Mayo Clinic Minute: How to hit your target heart rate
  63. Miss a workout? Don't give up!
  64. Natural movement: Going back to basics
  65. Need a gym to get fit?
  66. Need exercise motivation? Put it on paper
  67. Need motivation to exercise? Try a diary
  68. No pain, no gain? No way!
  69. No time for exercise? No way!
  70. Office exercise
  71. Overuse injury prevention
  72. Pregnancy and exercise
  73. Ready to get in on the aquatic fitness movement?
  74. Simple tips for staying active and mobile with osteoarthritis
  75. Core-strength exercises
  76. Guide to stretches
  77. Balance exercises
  78. Fitness ball
  79. Starting a fitness program? Take it slow
  80. Starting an exercise program: Take time to rest
  81. Stay fit and healthy — without breaking a sweat
  82. Stay fit at any age
  83. Travel and work
  84. Strength training: How-to video collection
  85. The best ways to bounce back after a tough workout
  86. 5 common sports injuries in young female athletes
  87. To stay fit, embrace the power of play
  88. Too busy to exercise? Get up earlier
  89. Too sick to exercise?
  90. Fitness tips for business travelers
  91. Walking for fitness: Getting started
  92. Want to get fit? Try backyard aerobics!
  93. What it takes to be agile at any age
  94. Winter blahs? 4 pro tips to get you off the couch.
  95. Cold-weather exercise
  96. Winter weather tip: Watch for signs of frostbite
  97. Working out? Remember to drink up
  98. Workout blahs? Don't go it alone!