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If you or your family are looking for new ways to get in better shape and stay healthy, here are some activities and exercise that families can do indoors. All of the examples can also be enjoyed in an area where space might be limited.

Benefits.

Creating positive healthy habits now and for the future will reduce your family’s risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and even some cancers.

Physical activity will help us manage stress, increase our energy levels, improve our quality of sleep and promote a sense of well being.

We know that children who exercise do better academically.

Kids with parents who exercise are more likely to exercise too. They will also often mimic your bad habits, so don’t get caught!

Lead by example. The next time you do a 10 minute stress reducing workout tell the kids what your up to. In the future you can invite them to join and try it as their own stress/mood management tool.

Family Exercise Time!

There’s a lot we can play with. We can enjoy the basic familiar exercises and also dance our hearts out.

– Get the music playing and have fun dancing. Take turns coming up with moves for the others to mimic. Spend half an hour twice a week learning a dance video. Thriller may be too scary for the really young ones but it’s one of my favourites.

OK so this is the only one with equipment- to play music 🙂

– Marching on the spot. Raising the knees high. This is a good general warm up.

– Push ups. Make them easier by keeping the knees on the floor. The smaller kids can lie on daddy’s back and enjoy the ride.

– Karate kicks. Raise the knee first and then kick up your foot. It’s like kicking a soccer ball high in the air. Build up a good left-right rhythm. Be gentle if you are new to kicking. Try 10-15 seconds. As you do more workouts increase your time. Try for a minute.

– Squats. Feet hip width apart. Hips move back as you bend your knees and lean forward (back straight) and lower bum to the height of your knees and stand straight up. Do this until the thighs feel a little tired.

-Sumo squat. Feet wide, bend your knees to lower your bum to the same height as your knees. Stay there. See who can hold it for the longest. Doing a couple easy sets of squats is a good warm up for the Sumo challenge!

– Squat and karate kick combo! Do a squat and kick with the right foot as you stand back up. Squat down and repeat with the left foot.

– Jump twists. Upper body faces straight. Little hops to turn feet and hips left to right. Dance!

– Planks. Face down on the floor. On your elbows and toes. Lift your hips off the floor and keep your body straight so your hips are not sagging. See how long each family member can hold it.

– Crab walks. On your hand and toes in a push up position. Walk to the left and then back to the right. Keep your arms straight below you and not way out in front. Try to keep your body flat- don’t raise the hips up or let them sag. The wee ones might want to ride on daddy’s or mommy’s back. Be careful!

– Partner pushes. Two people face each other with arms straight out in front of them. Put your palms against each other’s and interlace your fingers. Get close enough so one person has their hands a few inches in front of their shoulders and their partners arms are still straight. The person with the bent arms gently pushes them straight, their partners arms bend.

So two people are using each other to do push ups! Kids will really enjoy pushing hard on mom and dad!

Take two or three of these exercises, do them one after the other, start again. This kind of circuit will really get the heart and lungs working. Everyone should work to his or her own ability. Of course as your fitness increases you’ll be able to work longer and harder.

Or you may have a TV Show you all watch. Try doing a few exercises during commercials. Or try to do one for the whole break!

20 minutes three times a week is a good start. Build to five days and choose different exercises for each day.

Wishing you a fun and active winter!

Conor McDermott
About the Author

Conor McDermott is a Health and Fitness Coach with more than 20 years experience. He is currently servicing the Toronto area and can be contacted at connorkenji.com.

Photo credit: Edmund Vanzyl