Advancing Children's Health

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Think outside the gym for active fun

Published by , on Oct 13, 2016

The Surgeon General of the United States recommends children get at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day and adults get at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day.* This may sound like a lot of time, and busy schedules can sometimes get in the way, but the great thing about physical activity is that is doesn’t always have to take place in a gym. There are tons of other ways to meet the daily recommendation by doing other, enjoyable activities at home, in your neighborhood or during a fun family outing without realizing you are getting a workout.

What counts as physical activity?exercise


Physical activity is any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that requires the body to use energy (calories) above a resting state. Below are 15 family-friendly suggestions from Healthy Lifestyles Center exercise physiologist Sarah Farthing. These activities can help your family boost physical activity and meet daily goals:

1 – Walking or playing with your family dog. They need physical activity just like you do!

2 – Going on a family hike at a nearby trail or somewhere further away with amazing sites

3 – Putting on some music and dancing!

4 – Doing yard work such as mowing the lawn, raking leaves or working in the flower bed

5 – Participating in outdoor games with family or friends like scavenger hunts, capture the flag, hide and seek or kickball

6 – If the weather permits, setting up a sprinkler or slip-n-slide in the backyard

7 – Visiting parks, zoos, theme parks and museums. These are great sources of physical activity because you have to do a lot of walking but they are loads of fun!

8 – Rollerblading, ice skating or skateboarding (with proper protective gear!)

9 – Playing a team sport such as soccer or baseball for a league or playing a backyard football, soccer, etc., game with friends

10 – Going on a bike ride with friends or family (With cycling, it’s hard to say the exact distance covered in 60 minutes. MapMyRide has a great app and website where you can create a route ahead of time and ride it or map a route as you bike it and it will give your total distance.)

11 – Recreational swimming in the pool or ocean

12 – Rock climbing

13 – Cleaning. It may not be much fun, but chores like vacuuming, dusting and mopping make you move a lot!

14 – Water sports like kayaking, canoeing, paddle boarding, and surfing

15 – Visiting farms and picking apples, strawberries, watermelons, pumpkins, etc. (whatever’s in season!)

And if you are interested in a traditional workout…


Exercise physiologists at our Healthy Lifestyles Center made this fun workout video specially designed for kids and adults. The video features children demonstrating the moves and these 15-minute workout combinations include a variety of cardiorespiratory and strengthening exercises that can easily be done at home and don’t require gym equipment.

These are just a few of the many ways your family can “get active” at home, in your neighborhood or during a fun family outing. No matter how or where you choose to do it, incorporating active fun into your family’s daily plans leads to a healthier lifestyle for all.

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