With all the emphasis on getting in shape these days, the idea of starting a workout routine for the whole family might be a little daunting. But getting fit doesn't have to be a drag, and it doesn't have to cost a lot of money, either; there are plenty of activities families can participate in that provide both exercise and enjoyment.
So, let's skip all the scary statistics about obesity, diabetes and the like and dive right in: Here are five great ways for your family to get healthy exercise while spending some great quality time together.
#5: Backyard Fitness
The backyard might look like a boring landscape to some, but it can be the location for an incredible variety of activities.
Frisbee, kickball and flag football are all games that do very little damage to the wallet but can have the whole family active and engaged. More traditional sports like baseball and soccer can also get people going. And if you really want to see your family move -- buy a trampoline or set up a volleyball net.
Tip: A spirited game of tag will get you fit faster than a leisurely round of bocce or croquet, but there's always a way to speed things up. Try racing to collect the bocce balls or dashing from one hoop to the next after each croquet shot.
#4: Fitness for a Cause
Even though your family will benefit from getting fit doesn't mean you guys have to be the only ones to get something out of it. Lots of charities and foundations receive funding from the entry fees of walks, runs and bike rides that could give a whole further meaning to your fitness.
Plus, it usually takes some time to prepare for an event like this. This gives everyone in the family an excuse to get cruising around the neighborhood well in advance, encouraging each other to get ready for race day.
Want to go DIY? Consider planning an event for your whole block or neighborhood. Whether the races involve relays, potato sacks or three legs, it's a great way to get to know your neighbors while getting fit. As an added bonus: Have participants donate canned goods or money to local charities on behalf of the neighborhood!
#3: Fitness for a Clean House
Chores might make your family groan and scatter, but if you're all looking to get fit, it may be time to give these daunting tasks a fresh look. All seasons have something to offer in terms of a workout.
During the summertime, how about washing the cars â€“ and pairing that with a water fight? Or anyone up for a little leaf raking competition in the fall?
If you live in a locale with cold winters, shoveling snow can be a good excuse for the family to get outside for a spell -- and all that work will have everyone warm in a hurry. It doesn't hurt to take a break for an invigorating snowball fight either.
For those of you in warmer climes, there's always vacuuming, sweeping and mopping to be done. Make it more fun by adding a cleaning soundtrack to your family iPod.
Granted, these ideas are all about cleaning, which may leave some feeling a little like Cinderella, but they're healthy activities that will leave the house, yard and your family looking great.
#2: Console Fitness
A recent study released by comScore and MasterCard Advisers' Spending Plus Unit reported that of the two fastest-growing categories for retail spending included sport and fitness and video games, such as the Nintendo Wii -- good news for families who want to get active.
Instead of pulling out a joystick or faux weaponry, the Wii and Wii Fit get families up and about. Maybe some yoga for mom? Slalom skiing for Jane and boxing or tennis for little Joey? Strength training for dad? Aerobics for everyone?
The Wii Balance Board can tell if you're shaping up, because it charts everybody's workouts to see how much progress they're making. A little bit competition, a lot about fitness and even more about fun, technology like this is increasingly getting families on their feet, hearts pumping.
#1: Nature Fitness
There's a lot that nature has to offer in the way of fitness. Hiking and biking might be the perennial classics, but depending on the nature in your area, chances are good you'll find a whole lot more. If there's a lake or river nearby, not only can swimming provide a good workout, your family can see if canoeing, whitewater rafting, tubing or kayaking are to their tastes as well.
Where camping is available, tasks like collecting wood, pitching tents and building campfires definitely help get families active. If it looks like the winter is going to put a damper on your workout routine, consider trading in the bikes for some cross country skies or ice skates. Kites can also make cold, windy days more enjoyable.
All in all, when it comes to family fitness the trick is to just get out there, get moving and have fun.