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7 Exercise Ideas for The Whole Family

  • Sep 06, 2023
  • Fitness

Family exercising

What if you could get active, boost your physical health and bond with your family, all at the same time? By making exercise a family activity, you can enjoy all these benefits and more. In this article, we’ve selected seven family-friendly exercises that are suitable for all ages and abilities to help you and your family stay happy, healthy and spend quality time together.

1. Outdoor walks

Whether you are walking in the woods, in a park or on the beach, an outdoor walk offers a change of scenery from normal family life. Walking is a great low aerobic exercise that still challenges different muscle groups and can help you maintain a healthy weight, making it an inclusive and effective exercise suitable for all ages.

Being in nature is known to reduce stress and anxiety and helps you be more present in the moment. Walking side by side with your family, no matter the pace, is a great way to talk and connect with each other without home distractions. Walking outdoors can also teach children about the world around them such as different trees, flowers, or different types of road safety signs. Find out more about the benefits of walking,=

2. Dancing

Dancing can be a fun physical activity which can be adapted to your abilities by changing the intensity of the dancing. Studies have shown that regular dancing at a medium intensity can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. It is a great way to increase your heartbeat and help you burn more calories.

In children and older adults, it can also help to improve motor skills as it challenges your brain by promoting neuroplasticity which is your brain’s ability to change, boost your memory, and learn spatial navigation skills.

Dancing encourages social bonding and it can release endorphins, making it an excellent way to combine fitness and fun in a family activity. Whether it’s through dance classes, a social media dance challenge, a dance party, or an improv dance when your favourite song comes on, incorporate dancing in your family activities to raise energy levels and encourage family bonding.

3. Swimming

Swimming will provide great family bonding time. Whether you’re on holiday or at your local swimming pool, swimming is a way to have some fun in the water and catch up with your family. Swimming uses all the muscles in your body, meaning it is an excellent form of exercise to strengthen your muscles and improve cardiovascular health whilst also being low-impact and accessible to most people.

Additionally, swimming and water safety is an important life skill to teach your children and regular practice maintains your confidence in the water. Find out more about the benefits of swimming.

4. At-home circuit workout

A circuit workout is where you complete a set of different exercises with short rest periods between them. You can design your own combination of exercises for the circuit depending on your family’s abilities. You can try to include 5 to 10 exercises, each lasting 30 seconds with 30 seconds rest in between. Here are some ideas of exercises to include in the circuit:

  • Star jumps
  • One-foot jumps
  • Scissor jumps
  • Mountain climbers
  • Squats
  • Burpees
  • Sit ups
  • Jogging on the spot
  • Plank
  • High knee run

You can tailor the circuit to each family member’s fitness level and ability, but remember, it’s not just about sweat and reps, it’s about laughter, teamwork, and encouragement.

5. Bike rides

Cycling involves almost all your muscles: your legs whilst pedalling, your arms while holding the handlebars and your abdomen and back while stabilising your body on the bike. It’s a great way to keep fit, improve cardiovascular health and spend time with your family.

Cycling is suitable for all fitness levels as the pressure on your joints is low and you can go at your own pace. Whether you prefer roads, trails or parks, cycling is more than just physical exercise, it's also a great way to teach kids about road safety, explore the local area and get out of the house. What’s more, going on a bike ride reduces carbon emissions, making it an eco-friendly way to get out of the house.

6. Yoga

Yoga improves flexibility, strength  and balance through maintaining different postures, concentrating on your breathing and meditating. Although it originates from Indian religions, yoga can be practiced by anyone, no matter what age or fitness level.

Yoga can boost your mood and in the long term, improve body image and confidence. Practicing yoga together with your family can build trust by supporting each other both physically and emotionally.

Whether it’s a playful session encouraging little ones to hold easy poses or a more serious session concentrating on being mindful, yoga is a great low-impact exercise that is accessible for everyone and can be regularly practiced as a family. Find out more about the potential benefits of yoga.

7. Park or beach games

Playing games or sports in your local park or at the beach is a wonderful way to combine fitness and entertainment. Take advantage of open spaces for activities such as tag, football, rounders or frisbee, which can all help improve cardiovascular health, agility, and hand-eye coordination.

Being outdoors in the fresh air can also boost mental wellbeing and makes exercise feel less like a chore and more like valued family time.

How to create a family exercise plan

When designing a family exercise plan, factoring everyone’s fitness ability and availability can often be challenging. When putting a plan together, you should take into consideration:

  • Understand the fitness levels and exercise preferences of all family members to help you create a plan which caters to different intensity levels and interests.
  • Establish attainable goals and objectives based on everyone’s capabilities and goals.
  • Factor in everyone’s commitments such as school or work to set consistent workout times.
  • Incorporating a mix of indoor and outdoor activities to adapt to different seasons and ensure variety.
  • Using charts or apps to monitor and celebrate everyone’s progress.
  • Introduce new exercises occasionally to keep your family engaged.

How can you encourage your family to exercise together?

Even with the best intentions, getting the entire family for a collective workout can be difficult. However, there are ways that you can encourage everyone to get involved, such as:

  • Scheduling a time each day for a physical activity with your children.
  • Incorporating items such as balls, kites, skateboards or skipping ropes.
  • Letting each family member choose an exercise they enjoy.
  • Picking exercises which everyone can practice at their own pace.
  • Encouraging and praising exercise.
  • Keeping track of progress and take a day off once or twice a week to recover and avoid overworking the body.

The bottom line

Staying active as a family is not just about fun and bonding—it's a path to better health. The NHS suggests that we should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise weekly, which when incorporated into a healthy lifestyle, can have incredible benefits for physical and mental wellbeing.

For more insight into the advantages of consistent exercise, take a look at our article about 4 Less Obvious Health Benefits of Regular Exercise.


Disclaimer: The content of this website is provided for informational purposes only and does not substitute the medical advice from a healthcare professional.