With the weather warming up and school about to come to a close, we’ve been looking at ideas on how to keep our family active and fit this summer. After reading 5 Practical Tips to Encourage Your Children to Get Into Fitness, I decided to get my ideas down in black-and-white, so I can refer back to these ideas when my memory and creativity take a vacation day. Hopefully you can use these ideas with your own children this summer as well.

  1. The Swimming Pool – If you have frequent access to a swimming pool this summer, you have an easy way to entertain the kids and stay in shape at the same time. Practicing strokes and doing laps are great exercise, but even just a fun afternoon splashing around in the water gives you and your children opportunities to use muscles in different ways that you use them on land. Water games like Marco Polo and water volleyball also offer different ways to play at the pool. No pool? Try a sprinkler in the yard or a Slip N Slide, which gets kids outside but keeps them cool and refreshed. No matter what, don’t forget the sunscreen. And we have a great selection of Water and Sand Toys for play in the yard, at the pool, or at the beach.
  2. Jumping Rope – A jump rope represents a great chance to improve both your cardiovascular health in your coordination skills. There are lots of different ways to jump rope, from one person with a single rope, to two people using the same (longer) rope, or three people where two turn the rope and a third jumps in the middle. Use two ropes for double-dutch jumping! Also, combining the basic jump with fancier skills such as hopping on one leg, handstands, and more will build additional skills and confidence. JumpRope.com offers great videos, teaching materials, and ropes. Plus we have our own adorable Carrot Jump Rope and, for a different twist, a Solo Chinese Jump Rope with stakes so it can be used by a single person.
  3. Family Walks – Taking a walk with our family is one of my favorite ways to unwind after a long day. It’s a great alternative that gets the kids outside instead of watching a cartoon for 30 minutes. Our walk may be as simple as one-time-around-the-block, or on days when we have more time, we walk to one of the neighborhood parks and let the kids play on the playground before we walk home. Walking is easy on your joints, usually allows for easy conversation, and it a great way to get some fresh air, observe wildlife, and greet your neighbors.
  4. Gardening – While caring for plants may not be as aerobically effective as the previous ideas, I love the way it combines nurturing, science, and activity. Plus, indoor container gardening is impervious to rainy days. Children learn the responsibility of caring for a living thing, and gardening offers opportunities to talk about plant parts, pollination, insects, and more. Consider planting a vegetable garden, which has the added benefit of providing healthy food that kids may be more interested in eating, since it represents the “fruits” of their own labor!
  5. Family Yoga – Ever since we invested in a Wii Fit gaming system, the yoga exercises have been one of our kids’ favorite activities. We take turns using the balance board, but everyone can participate at the same time. It’s perfect for stretching tired muscles and calming down frazzled nerves (mine and the kids’!) So many of our activities involve shortening our muscles, so good stretching activities like yoga and Pilates help balance that by working to lengthen muscles. The focus on breathing is also great, particular in its calming effect.

I hope that these ideas will give you some inspiration to stay active over the summer break. If you have other good ideas, please share them in the comments!