Identifying age-appropriate activities is a large part of establishing a family fitness routine that’s fun and maintainable. Here are some ideas for your family to consider depending on the age of your child(ren).
Ages 3 to 5
Children between the ages of 3 and 5 years old should be “active throughout the day” to support their growth and development, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes. Exercise guidelines from other countries, such as Canada and the United Kingdom, suggest three active hours per day for kids within this age range.
However, this doesn’t need to be sustained moderate or vigorous activity, but could include play and physical activities guided by an adult. The CDC notes that “children do not usually need formal muscle-strengthening programs,” though they shouldn’t be inactive for long periods of time either, unless they are sleeping.
Family fitness activities for children between the ages of 3 and 5 could include:
- Playing on a jungle gym
- Doing gymnastics
- Climbing a tree
- Playing a game like “Follow the Leader” or “Duck, Duck, Goose”
- Kicking a ball back and forth
- Playing freeze tag
- Setting up an obstacle course
- Going on a treasure hunt
- Playing catch
- Dancing to music together
- Exploring the backyard
Ages 6 to 10
Once your child turns 6, the CDC recommends a minimum of 60 minutes of physical activity per day that’s moderate or vigorous in intensity. Again, these activities can be short bouts of movement throughout the day, as children typically have attention spans that drive them to participate briefly in one activity before moving on to the next. Most of the daily sessions should include aerobic activity, such as walking or running, and at least three days of the week should include vigorous activity. Children within this age range should also incorporate bone-strengthening and muscle-strengthening activities, such as climbing or jumping.
If your child falls within this age range, here are some family fitness activities you might consider trying:
- Riding a non-motorized scooter
- Playing baseball or softball
- Rope or tree climbing
- Some forms of yoga
- Martial arts
- Tag or flag football
- Jumping rope
The physical activity recommendations remain the same for your child as they grow older and become a tween and later a teen. They will still need to get at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity a day, with their routine incorporating aerobic, muscle-strengthening and bone-strengthening activities.
However, teens can have a tendency to over-exercise, particularly teenage boys. Dr. Tsuda explains that while younger children typically “do what they want to do,” teenage boys especially can “step over what they should not step over, and that causes some trouble.” As such, engaging in fitness as a family can help tweens and teens learn healthy habits and understand how to work out safely and effectively.
For kids age 10 and up, here are some family fitness activities you might consider:
- Running, perhaps training for a charity race
- Housework and yard work, like mowing the lawn
- Cross-country skiing
- Resistance exercises with body weight or weights
- Team sports like soccer or volleyball
- Shooting hoops
- Playing frisbee
- Taking dance classes