Getting fit can be fun

I talk about kids getting fit and I talk about walking the talk for adults. But I have been asked to give ideas for families to get fit, so here are a few, you can take it from there.

Our Cat in tha Hat game (but you can call it what you want): This is a box game we have, I think it was a gift. But the concept is easily reproduced with variations for age and skill appropriate personalization. The idea is basically this: there are 3 types of cards, Red, Blue and Yellow. Red tells us what the “thing” is; say hopping on one foot. Blue tells us where; say for example around the table, and Yellow tells us how, again for example lets say with an umbrella under your arm. (The box comes with several props). If you complete the task, you keep the cards for points. This could be advanced to older or more physically adept kids. Come up with your own cards, or let the kids come up with them. Here are some ideas:

Red: Hopping, Skipping, Crawling, Dancing, Running, Walking on knees, Doing the worm, cartwheeling, etc. Blue: across the yard, around the car, over the pillow, in the hall, on the bed, etc.                                                   Yellow: Holding a ball, wearing mittens, with a hat on, in your socks, while whistling, etc.

Here’s the catch. YOU MUST PLAY. Everyone should have a chance to be laughed at and a chance to do some laughing too. Everybody gets a turn (add in “skip a turn” cards and you’ll see that missing a turn is a bummer). Maybe add different points to various cards and add a Math component to the game. Total the points at the end, then play again. I do this game with my advanced team kids on balance beam (Do 5 back handspings -5 points- on the high beam -1 point-  while humming the chicken dance LOUDLY -5 points)

Jump rope:  There are many things to be learned from a game of jump rope. Rhymes (there are many posted online for you to use), math skills, adding numbers or subtracting, there are cooperation lessons (turning to keep your friends going, or pacing turns) and it’s great and easy exercise. How about you jump in too. Your kids will love it. Oh and by the way, it is too a boy thing. I went to college with a World Jump Rope champion who had huge calves and was one of the most fit guys I ever knew. He had a vertical jump of about 40 inches too.

Fishbowl Filler: make a daily reward for exercising. Sometimes kids need a little incentive to get off the couch. Not everything needs a reward (the fun of the games above are incentive enough in themselves)but sometimes its fun to see how many healthy days we have, and kids love to see progress in a tangible way. Have a small fishbowl (or a big one) and add a marble every time you “work out” or have active play. When the bowl is full the family gets a reward like movie night, pizza or ice cream. You can do what I do and use the incentives to earn what we would probably do anyway. Makes it mean more. For example, we earned our family trip to see the Lorax movie, but we were going to take the kids anyway. When you earn the reward, set a new one, empty the bowl and start over. WARNING: this gets old and so it is not for long-term, it does work to have it show up every once in a while.

I will say that, especially in the warmer months, I am proud of what I see. Families playing in the yard, out for a bike ride, at the park or what I saw last night, a family out sitting on the front step of their house, laughing and talking…..during television prime time!  Getting your kids fit and getting fit yourself can be family time because it shows kids that it’s a family value for you, not to mention social and physical benefits for all. How could that be bad?


  1. Jumping Rope on October 8, 2012 at 9:58 am

    Thank you for posting this blog. It is so important to get children out and active. Also, thank you for the extra jump rope tips. My son loves to jump rope, and it will be fun to incorporate a new twist with some of your suggestions. 🙂

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