Whether it’s the cold and rainy season or you’re following stay-at-home orders during a global pandemic, being stuck inside the house with your kids can have a big impact on the health and well-being of everyone in your household making keeping the whole family active difficult. Since most of us rely on the outdoors, the gym, and parks to get us motivated to work out, being confined to the indoors often means a steep decline in physical fitness. And if you’ve got kids, the confinement is extra-tough—there’s nowhere to release all that energy!
But fear not! There are a few brilliant ways you can help encourage your family to stay active and healthy without stepping foot outside. Just remember: Indoor life is, hopefully, only temporary. We need sun and fresh air to thrive, so be sure to take it outside (even if that’s only as far as the front yard) when the weather is nice.
Use Screen Time as Fitness Time – It feels basically impossible to limit screen time when we’re stuck inside. Rather than putting hard-and-fast limits on how much time your family spends online, consider working on making those screen hours more productive with exergaming (exercise gaming). Here are some ideas:
- Wii Fit – If it’s been a while since you broke out the Wii, now’s the time to bring it back to life! This fun game uses the Wii Balance Board to walk users through yoga, strength training, aerobics, and more.
- Zumba Fitness: World Party – Another great fitness game for your console system, this one gets you sweating with the help of the ever-popular Latin dance fitness craze known as Zumba. It’s available for Xbox 360, Wii, Wii U, and Xbox One.
- Ring Fit Adventure – For something a bit more exciting, invest in Ring Fit Adventure, an exercising-action game for the Nintendo Switch. It uses accessories—the Ring-Con and a leg strap—to guide you through a turn-based role-playing adventure for some real physical activity.
Learn a New Dance Craze – Kids and teenagers these days love a good dance challenge (see: TikTok), so encouraging them to learn a new dance is a great way to spark a lasting interest in staying fit. Don’t underestimate the power of dancing, either! It may be fun, but it’s also really good for your physical health and keeping the whole family active. In fact, you can burn around 400 calories per hour doing intense hip-hop dancing, and it’s one of the best exercises around because it doesn’t feel like exercise.
Hold a Competition – Whether you match up with yourself or a family member, nothing pushes you to the limits like a friendly competition. Facing off with another person in your household helps ensure that you dig deep within yourself and unleash your inner potential. Some fun competition ideas include:
- Handstand competition
- Jump rope competition
- Hula-hooping competition
- Push-up competition
- Weight-lifting competition
Create an Indoor Obstacle Course – Head to the largest, most open room in your house. If you’re feeling extra-ambitious, you may even want to clear out the garage and use it as your obstacle course venue. Folding chairs, sofa cushions, pop-up play tunnels, hula hoops, jump ropes, traffic cones, indoor trampolines—these are all excellent everyday objects that can be transformed into boundary-pushing obstacle course challenges. Or lay out a pattern in masking tape to follow like an elaborate hop-scotch grid. Make sure to add an element of competition, and time one another to see who can make it through the fastest.
Do Some Yoga – Yoga is one of the best indoor activities for families because it focuses on both mental and physical health and, when we’re confined to a small space for prolonged periods of time, we need a little extra of both! There are many amazing kids’ yoga programs on YouTube that are great for introducing this relaxing mind-body activity for keeping the whole family active.
Face Off in Hallway Bowling – Do you ever look down the longest hallway in your home and think, “Wow, that would make a great bowling alley”? Well, hey, now’s the time. Hallway bowling is a fun way to get the youngsters up and active. You can invest in affordable plastic bowling pins and balls—which are relatively inexpensive online at many major retailers—or create your own setup with empty plastic bottles and a ball you already have around the house.
Have a Self-Care Day – Emphasizing the importance of good mental health is just as important as emphasizing the importance of good physical health for keeping the whole family active, especially when you’re stuck at home and feeling anxious, restless, or depressed. After a day of hard-hitting fitness, do some relaxing! Recreate the experience of vacation or a spa day with some luxurious self-care activities. Try massage or laser therapy for back pain to ease some of the post-workout pain, and indulge in self-care activities like taking a warm bath or doing a facial.
Set Up a Balloon Volleyball Match – If there are blown-up balloons around, balloon volleyball is almost inevitable, but this game makes it a bit more official. To set up a balloon volleyball match, you’ll need some inflated balloons—tip: Just use regular lung power, not helium, or else they will float away—and something to serve as a net. An easy way to set up a “net” in your living room is to tape a string or some streamers to two walls to split the room in half.
No Matter What, Have Fun
We know that, as a parent, you’re probably somewhat stressed about your kids (and, let’s be honest, yourself) falling into a sedentary lifestyle when stuck inside. It’s totally understandable. Just remember not to stress too much. The best thing you can do is to try to make the situation fun for everyone, and what better way than these wonderful ideas? Keep the positive energy alive, and you’ll shed that cooped-up feeling in no time keeping the whole family active.