”Question: It is Family Fitness Day on June 10th. What can I do to get my family moving?!
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- Learn why a family fitness challenge could positively impact your loved ones and how to implement your own.
- Here are suggestions to design an effective family fitness challenge:
- Choose your challenge based on majority input.
- Some goals to base your challenge off could be healthy eating, physical activity, wellness, or screen time.
- Make a specific plan with progress measurements such as deadlines or charts to keep everyone accountable.
- Choose a reward to celebrate!
- Here are suggestions to design an effective family fitness challenge:
Why Your Family Should Try a Fitness Challenge
There are many reasons to start a family fitness challenge and even more fitness goals to pursue. Some families seek to do a fitness challenge together for the sheer fun of it or out of competitiveness. Possible goals might be to work up to running a set distance at a set pace or to prepare for a fitness-related trip or event.
Whatever your endgame may be, setting up a family fitness challenge is the perfect way to inspire everyone in your household to be more active and living healthier lifestyles.
Below, we outline how to select and organize a fitness challenge, and offer tips for making it work for your family. There are limitless options for great goals to pursue.
Check out our list of challenge ideas to help you discover the one that’s just right for your family—or use our suggestions as a starting point to create one of your own.
1. Choose Your Challenge
First off, narrow in on what you are hoping to achieve for your family. Then, come up with a few fitness challenge ideas that sync up with those goals. Finally, hold a family meeting to brainstorm together, solidify your specific plan, and kick off your challenge.
At your meeting, start by presenting your ideas and explaining what you are hoping to achieve—from boosting physical activity to cutting back on cell phone use. Solicit everyone’s ideas, including little kids, too. Select a final challenge that appeals to everyone (at least as many people as you can) and is doable.
A family meeting is an opportunity for everyone to share their ideas and have them recognized. Consider each fitness challenge proposal carefully before choosing one topic. Then, refine the idea to make it specific by spelling out achievable steps and the proposed timeframe for completing them.
2. Pick Your Goal
Some families will have a particular area of fitness they want to work on, but your challenge could be about any factor of healthy living such as diet, mental health, and/or screen time. Take a look at the below list of possible goals to help you find your family’s optimal challenge.
Your family might decide to target healthy eating. This could include cutting back on processed foods, carbs, snacking, meat, fast food, or eating out.
Your challenge could be related to cooking as a family, trying one new recipe nightly for a month, or having each person take on meal planning and preparation one night per week. You could challenge each other to eat more adventurously or smaller portions.
Your goal could be keeping a food log, trying new foods, or eliminating sugar. Or you might want to do an entire overhaul of your family’s eating habits.
Your family might have health issues to confront, such as food allergies, gluten intolerance, obesity, and/or other health concerns, and want to institute diet changes for the whole family. Alternatively, your family might seek to try out vegetarianism, the Mediterranean Diet, or some other big change in the way your household eats.
There are no limits to the physical fitness challenges your family could pursue. You might generally seek to increase physical activity or you might have a specific end in mind, such as running, biking, or hiking together.
You might want to work on new strength or flexibility goals, such as measuring your splits over the course of a challenge or moving from doing 10 pushups a day to 30.
Other ideas include sports-related goals, such as learning a jump shot, throwing a baseball, or perfecting your soccer skills. Or you can improve your running pace, stamina, or distance. Or tackle an intense hill on your bike without stopping.
Your family could decide to work toward a particular event, such as picking a 5K run you’ll do together. You might aim to go on a family walk every night after dinner for a month, adding on an extra block or two each night.
You could decide to explore your local area by doing a different hike every weekend for a year or challenge each other to learn a new sport, such as hockey or racketball that you’ll play together. You might schedule weekly field games or obstacle courses. Alternatively, each family member could choose a personal fitness goal to tackle—doing it together can help keep you each motivated and accountable.
Like many of us, is your family under a lot of stress and/or missing family or recreation time? If so, you could make a fitness challenge to address wellness, relaxation, and mental health needs. Schedule mindfulness activities, such as weekly family yoga, dance parties, game nights, aromatherapy, meditation sessions, or other activities.
Inspire each other to try out and develop new (or return to old) hobbies.
You could decide to form a family book club or challenge each other to read, write, draw, or paint for pleasure for 30 minutes a day. Join a pottery class together. Make Sunday evenings a family journaling session or a time to create to-do lists together to improve productivity and time management skills. Expose each other to new music by switching off playing DJ once a week. Learn to tell jokes.
You could tackle the clutter in your home (a sure way to alleviate stress) by working together on one room of the house each week. Or you could have each person take on one drawer, closet, box, cabinet, or pile each day until your house is organized. Then, donate and/or sell any items you don’t want—and use any proceeds to buy something that everyone can enjoy, such as a basketball hoop or board games.
Another option to consider for your family fitness challenge is to combat excess electronics usage—something most families struggle with.2 Talk about what you hope to change about how your family interacts with electronic devices.
You might challenge each other to delete certain apps, limit social media usage, set specific phone-free hours or rules, or simply reduce your daily hours in front of screens.
Working on cutting back on screen time together can help keep you all honest (your devices can also log your usage) and jump-start a change that will become a regular part of your healthier lifestyle.
Finding ways to make your challenge competitive (such as who can cut their usage by 50% or hold off on checking their phone for the longest stretch) and coming up with alternative activities (such as rollerblading or making cookies) to replace screen time will make your quest to change your screen habits more fun.
3. Make a Plan
Once you’ve selected your family fitness challenge, tailor your goal to your family’s needs and think through all the details. Ultimately, you want to create an actionable plan to follow throughout the process.
Essential Elements of a Family Challenge
- Get specific (explain exactly what each person will change or do)
- Determine how you will monitor your efforts (such as using charts, logs, tracking apps, or meetings)
- Agree on any rules or guidelines for your challenge
- Select a timeframe (when it starts, how long it lasts)
- Schedule regular check-ins to boost motivation and accountability
- Decide how you will celebrate when your goal is reached
The more specific you can get about how your family fitness challenge will work, what your goals are, and any pertinent rules you will follow, the better. That said, it’s important to weave in some flexibility—and fun—as well.
Specify Your Goal
Be sure to spell out exactly what you’re hoping to achieve and what you’ll need to do to get there. Break it down as concretely as possible with a schedule for reviewing your progress so that you can keep track of how things are going.
For example, if you choose healthy eating, what does that mean? Maybe you’ll cut back on fast food, add more vegetables to your daily menu, pack nutritious lunches for school and work, and/or drink more water. You might decide to keep a food log and/or add new elements to your challenge each week, such as progressively dropping (or adding) certain foods or eating habits from your diet.
Make sure that everyone is clear on the objective, timetable, and steps involved.
Track Your Progress
Decide exactly how will you track your family’s progress during your fitness challenge. Plan whether you’ll log minutes of exercise, steps taken (use a pedometer or other activity monitoring app), pounds or inches lost, new foods tried, personal best records, yoga poses mastered, and so on. Use whatever method works for best your family’s particular wellness goal.
Be specific about how you will measure your achievements along your new fitness path. One option is to set up a chart or other visual display so that everyone can see your collective progress.
Keep in mind that not only are you promoting healthy choices with your fitness challenge, but you are teaching your children critical life skills, including goal-setting, time management, responsibility, self-motivation, and the value of hard work. Be sure to monitor, discuss, and praise those efforts as well as any tangible fitness successes.
Come up with ways to maintain motivation that will inspire your family. Pep talks, star charts, journaling, weekly check-ins, making your challenge competitive (but not overly so), and dividing into buddies are all methods that can help keep you all on track. Think about how you’ll celebrate your achievements, too.
Pick whatever methods of inspiration make sense for your family. Posting a visual reminder of what you’re working on and how far you’ve come in a prominent place is usually effective, as is setting a regular interval for check-ins to record your progress and troubleshoot any problems. Be open to adjusting goals as needed.
Maybe you’ll log your daily steps each night at bedtime, or have meetings on Sundays where each family member can share the progress they’ve made toward your group goal. Take this opportunity to cheer each other on. Celebrate victories as well as brainstorm solutions to any roadblocks that may occur.
Occasional setbacks, such as burnout, not following every guideline, or not getting desired results, are bound to happen. Focusing on effort rather than only on achievement can help overcome any negative feelings that might arise and allow everyone to feel successful and positive about the challenge.
4. Choose a Reward
As your family strives to complete your fitness challenge, consider coming up with an enticing reward. Beyond just the pleasure of sticking with and completing your goal, having a tangible prize can help motivate your crew to keep going—so can the promise of an exciting experience.
Rewards can be a group gift that you can enjoy together, individual prizes, or something different for each person in your family. Decide as a family what you want to work towards. But if you know your kids will likely ask for the moon, it can help for the adults in the household to come up with reasonable options to choose from.
Almost anything goes, such as cold, hard cash, a new toy, a special outing, a celebratory meal, or any other way your family decides to bask in your success. Best of all, choose a whole-family reward that reinforces your healthy lifestyle goal. That could mean a family pool pass, an outdoor toy (such as a trampoline or soccer nets) you can all share, or a picnic at the best playground around.