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How to kickstart your family fitness challenge

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3 November 2021|3 min read

Key points

  • You could combine exercise and quality family time with a family fitness challenge.
  • Preparation is key – plan your challenge carefully.
  • Consider using the SMART framework to help you set fitness goals. 
  • You could help build long-life habits for your kids while keeping yourself fit.

If you’re like most parents, running a household and juggling a busy schedule, finding the time to exercise is a challenge. 

And when you do find the time, it may feel like it’s at the expense of quality time with your family.

The good news is you don’t have to choose between the two. You could combine exercise and quality family time while having fun – starting with a 30 day family fitness challenge.

Planning your challenge

If you’re ready to create a culture and habit of movement for your family, the first step is to get planning. 

“Preparation is the key,” says Physiotherapist Brad McIntosh, “To make it work, I suggest focusing on a few key elements.”

Walk before you run

It’s important to consider each family member’s current activity and fitness level. 

“If you jump from ‘zero to hero’ too quickly, there’s a good chance it will be considered too hard and won’t last,” says Brad, “Or someone (probably mum or dad!) could get injured.” 

Set realistic targets

Set targets for parents and children to strive for, but as Brad says, make sure they’re realistic. Having realistic goals helps turn your intentions into action.  

Build in variety

“Make it fun and mix it up,” says Brad. “If it doesn’t interest your kids, it might be hard to engage them and keep them motivated.” 

Choose the right rewards

Measuring progress and rewarding success helps keep everyone interested. 

“Kids love a competition,” says Brad, “You could measure everything from steps to the number of exercise minutes to maximum heart rate, and link this back to rewards.” 

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Dance challenges can help keep everyone’s heart rate up.

Goals to strive for

Brad suggests incorporating recommended guidelines as part of your challenge. This includes:

  • a combination of moderate and vigorous physical activity on most days of the week
  • activities that could help strengthen muscles and bones such as climbing, bodyweight exercises or jumping rope
  • minimise and break up long periods of sitting
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Measuring progress and rewarding success helps keep everyone interested.

Top tips to get it done

Brad shares his top tips and recommendations to help make your 30 day family fitness challenge a success.

Understand the challenge

Keeping focused on the reasons why you’re doing the challenge helps to maintain the momentum. Brad suggests using the SMART framework by making your goals:

  • Specific – keep your goals simple, clear, and specific
  • Measurable – set goals with trackable, measurable criteria to track progress
  • Achievable – make your goals doable
  • Relevant – ensure they’re meaningful and worthwhile
  • Timely – aiming for a deadline helps with accountability

Balance risk vs reward

If your family is new to a regular exercise routine, Brad suggests warming up may help prevent common injuries. And don't be afraid to seek professional help if you need any guidance. 

Keep nutrition in mind

“Nutrition helps you get the most out of your exercise sessions,” says Brad, “Including a wide variety of fresh food, grains, fruit and vegetable and dairy may help provide the energy and nutrients you need.”

Brad also suggests making food fun and reinforcing positive habits to help keep the whole family involved. 

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Warming up may help prevent common injuries.

Ideas to get everyone moving

If you’re ready to get started and looking for fun exercises to do with the kids, Brad is full of family fitness ideas.

  • Dance challenges – whether guided through online videos or your imagination, these could help keep everyone’s heart rate up.
  • A pre or post-dinner walk is a great way to build movement into your existing routine. Explore your neighbourhood and take your dog along while enjoying some quality family time.
  • Make your own cross-training circuit, ideally with an element of competition. You could include moves such as push-ups, planks, crunches, shuttle runs, skipping, bridges, balance skills and more. 
  • Join your kids on the trampoline to help get your heart rate up.
  • Explore the outdoors with bushwalks, surfing, cycling or playing soccer at the local park.
  • Explore paid options for something different. Think tree ropes courses, ice skating, water parks, kayaking and more. 
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If you’re ready to create a culture and habit of movement for your family, the first step is to get planning.

Ready, set, go

Above all, Brad reminds us to have fun and stay positive. 

“Being in the moment, engaging all your senses and allowing for improvement helps you enjoy the journey,” he says. 

With a 30 day family fitness challenge in place, you could help build long-life habits for your kids while keeping yourself fit. It’s a win-win for everyone.

Related:

Brad McIntosh is a highly-trained and well-regarded physiotherapist with a particular clinical and research interest in knee rehabilitation. 

Reviewed by the healthylife Advisory Board October 2021.

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This article is for informational purposes only and does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Any information published on this website or by this brand is not intended as a substitute for medical advice. If you have any concerns or questions about your health you should consult with a health professional.