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Making the Most of Your Backyard for Family Exercise

By Jackie Edwards:

Research shows that parents and kids are more likely to exercise with a companion than alone. With this in mind, parents and children can motivate each other to stay activeby exercising together. Doing so also provides a valuable opportunity to build family bonds while keeping physically and mentally healthy. And, given the scientifically-proven benefits of being outdoors, why not give your emotional and physical well-being an added boost by focusing on exercising in your own backyard?

Get bouncing.

Depending on the age of your kids and your outdoor space, your backyard can be a wonderful area in which to have fun while exercising. Whatever your age, bouncing around on trampolines can provide a fun and deceptively intense physical workout: the repetitive jumping motion works your leg muscles in addition to your core as you balance on each bounce. A form of cardiovascular exercise, trampolining increases your heart rate and forces you to breathe more quickly, all of which is good for your heart. Meanwhile, with a half-hour mini-trampoline workout burning 160 calories, trampolining offers a way of exercising that is fun and effective.

Create an obstacle or circuits course.

Remember that exercise doesn’t have to be focused on one repeated activity. In fact, kids in particular probably are more likely to stay engaged with exercise if it is varied and/or playful in nature. With this in mind, create your own obstacle courses with the aim of putting different physical demands to the test. For example, incorporate hoops for jumping through or onto, as well as tunnels and netting for crawling through or under. Circuits are also a family-friendly way of exercising and can be adapted to suit the age and fitness of those taking part. Consider including high-intensity exercises such a pushups, sit-ups, skipping on the spot and star jumps. Depending on the number of family members taking part, circuits can offer a good opportunity to provide support for one another, with people taking turns timing and cheering the others.

Try outdoor stretching exercises.

On a sunny, quiet day, stretch-based exercises like yoga or Pilates can be a great way of building flexibility and core strength. The deep breathing involved can also help calm the mind and boost one’s mood. With this in mind, in order to ease any aches and to help each other relax, try some simple stretches as a group at the end of your exercise regime. This should have the added benefit of helping you all have a good night’s sleep.

Think of exercise as family time.

Exercise does not have to mean spending hours inside in a gym on your own; far from it, in fact. Think of it instead as a time you can spend together as a family — preferably in your backyard. Vary what you do to cater to the different ages and interests of everyone involved, and remember to keep it fun. These suggestions will help you to exercise regularly and spend quality time together as a family in the process.

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