Fit ‘n’ Healthy: The Family That Plays Together, Stays Fit Together

Well, they opened the water park at Rotary Peace Park and the kids are out of school … that must mean summer is finally here.

With summer comes barbecues, camping and tropical drinks, but what also comes is the opportunity to stay fit with your kids.

Depending on the age of your children, there are ample opportunities to get active. When the children are small and can’t keep up, say under the age of eight, running strollers and co-pilot bike attachments are a perfect way to get out for a longer walk/run or bike ride.

Heck, with the co-pilot bike attachment, the kids can even help you get up the hill.

If you want to go for a nice five-kilometre run, let the kids ride their bikes along beside you. It may even make you pick up your pace a little.

If you can join a fitness class that goes outside, maybe to a field or park, go ahead and bring your child along with you. They can run and jump and play while you enjoy your class and you both will be ready for an afternoon nap.

When your kids are a little older, maybe in the tweens, bike rides and slow jogs are a great way to spend time together. Or go to a nearby park to throw around a ball or Frisbee or challenge them to a monkey bar race. You’ll be surprised how fast they are.

Get on the swings beside them and try to use your abs to swing you more than pumping your legs.

Here is how: contract your abdominals and bring your rib cage toward your hips, draw your navel toward your spine as you swing up and then allow your core to release as you swing down.

You can use the swings for a lot more than just swinging. Try doing pikes with your hands on the ground and your feet on the swings or use two swings to try advanced forms of push ups and flys.

Use a platform to do triceps dips for your arms and step ups for your legs.

Can you do pull ups? That’s what monkey bars are for.

Can’t do a pull-up? Try jumping up into a pull-up position and then slowly lowering yourself down for three to five seconds. These are called forced negatives and will help you improve your strength to do pull-ups in the future.

As your kids get older, don’t stop playing together. You’ve built up to it, now do workouts together. With teens, you can do some strength and plyometric workouts together.

Incorporate cardio workouts of all kinds. Mountain biking, walking, jogging, sprints, road biking, tennis, Frisbee, baseball, soccer, orienteering, etc. The opportunities are endless.

Maybe your kids don’t have a sport that they like to do. How about building a tree house together? Or working in the garden or the yard? Lifting wood and digging out rocks is also hard activity.

We all want the best for our kids and the best way to teach them to be healthy adults is by observation. Show them how much fun it is to be active. Show them how many different activities there are to choose from. It doesn’t have to be competitive. It doesn’t have to be intense every time out.

What it has to be is time that you spend together that makes you sweat a little and makes the kids realize how much fun it is to go outside and play.

Active Healthy Kids Canada gave our children a D grade again for the activity level of children and youth in Canada. This means that there is “insufficient appropriate physical activity opportunities and programs available to the majority of Canadian children and youth.”

This level has not changed since the report cards were implemented in 2005. The Canadian research group indicated that “the overall grade of D on the report card has been consistent from 2005 to 2008 because definitive and measurable progress is not yet fully evident, demonstrating the need for sustained and increased efforts.”

As a parent, I believe it is our job, not that of the government, to not only teach our kids the importance of being active, but to give them a love for being active and physically fit and healthy.

What better way than to lead by example and do it together. In the end, you both win.

This column is provided by Peak Fitness. Mrs. Lee Randell is an ACE certified personal trainer. Contact information and past articles are available Anyone who wants to begin an exercise program should consult their physician first.

PHOTOS: RICHARD LEGNER [email protected]

This column is provided by Mrs. Lee Randell, independent fitness consultant, who is an ACE certified advanced health and fitness specialist and personal trainer. You can reach her at

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