Family Workout: Beginner

Linda Melone, ACSM Certified Personal Trainer

Adults and parents can help children become more active by setting an example themselves. Fit children are less likely to become overweight adults, according to a Norwegian study. The effects diminish after age 40, however, making it more important that parents also keep up their fitness level as they age. So what could be better than involving the entire family exercise that's enjoyable for everyone?

Children, like most adults, will avoid exercise that involves pain or monotony. In addition, children of different ages will respond to exercise and activities differently. Young children are motivated by intrinsic or internal factors, such as feeling good or enjoying the feeling of becoming stronger, while adolescents are motivated by extrinsic or outside encouragement, such as praise. So consider the age of your child when you plan family activities.

Tips to Get Started

In addition to finding activities the entire family enjoys, keep in mind these motivating techniques:

  • Tailor exercise programs to your family’s skill level and personal preferences
  • Discuss various activity options, so everyone feels like a part of the decision-making process
  • Keep the activities challenging but with minimal injury risk and with an opportunity to measure success
  • Provide positive feedback
  • Try treasure-hunting/hiking games like geocaching ( for hikes appropriate for everyone
  • Walk whenever and as much as possible

Activities to Try

Mix and match these activities and create your own versions to keep it fun. Kids should try to do at least 60 minutes of activity per day;
adults should aim for at least 30 minutes.

Week 1

Monday - Go old-school: play tag in the backyard
Tuesday - Hold a relay race
Wednesday - Play "Guess What Animal I Am?"
Thursday - Organize an outdoor treasure hunt
Friday - Go swimming at a local gym or park

Week 2

Monday - Hold a family dance contest: kids pick the music
Tuesday - Do a family challenge: see how many (wall) pushups or crunches you can do
Wednesday - Play catch outside or indoors with a soft toy
Thursday - Go to the playground and play on all the equipment
Friday - Take a hike or fly a kite

Once you've exhausted your own ideas, speak with a certified fitness professional to help you take the next step.

Done with the beginner's workout? Move on to Intermediate.

This content was provided by American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), the world's largest sports medicine and exercise
science organization and proud content provider for NBA FIT