Share laughter and good times with those you love.

Get Fit with Family Games

Everyone has a blast (and fits in fitness) by playing backyard games, so get outside and have fun together. As a bonus, you will strengthen bonds between family members.

Game Time
Classic activities such as croquet, badminton, and boccie are fairly cheap. And the healthy benefits outweigh any costs. Newer games, including Baggo (think horseshoes but using bean bags), are also low-cost and encourage everyone to learn something together. Player interaction helps participants learn to take turns, share, and root for each other. Games are also based on skills such as swinging, jumping, and throwing that can help players develop better physical coordination and strength.

Slather on sunscreen (SPF 15 or higher) 30 minutes before heading outside, and don't wait until you're panting like a dog to take a break. Rest after each match, and replenish your body's liquids with water or a sports drink.

Lead by Example
Parents don't always have to play the roles of team captains. Kids love the chance to call the shots and doing so builds their leadership skills and self-confidence. Even if the strategies they choose don't work, who cares? Letting them try until they reach a workable solution enhances their problem-solving abilities. If any conflicts arise (kids will be kids, and adults, adults), take a time-out to find a resolution. Remember, there are no trophies to be won, so just enjoy each other's company.

Getting everyone involved multiplies the amount of laughter, memories, and merriment. You'll find that your family makes the greatest team!

A Twist on Backyard Games
Because family members can vary in age and size, tweak standard games so that everyone can play along.

  • Badminton--Lower the net so that even the littlest ones can play.
  • Croquet--If you're right-handed, challenge yourself by switching sides and playing with a left-handed swing. This levels the playing field a little when an adult is playing with a much younger child.
  • Tag football--Instead of tagging each other, tickle each other.
  • Boccie--Don't have boccie balls? Use tennis balls instead.
  • Double Dutch--Play this one on a flat, smooth surface. If they're tall enough, let the kids twirl the ropes, while mom and dad do the jumping. Are your kids at the age where they're "too cool" to play the games mentioned above? Grab a Frisbee, and let them create their own challenging game. Invite some of their friends over to join in the fun

"Get Fit with Family Games" is from the June 2007 issue of Southern Living.