As many families have been learning the hard way, it’s hard to get anything done when you’re cooped up together. There just aren’t enough hours in the day for everybody to attend to their needs individually.
This is doubly true for daily exercise, where the absence of regular outlets such as organized sports can have the kids bouncing off the walls, while parents can feel stuck at home without time to squeeze in a quick run or gym trip.
Sometimes the best solution is to work out together. But what does that look like, exactly?
You’re not going to hand a 35-pound kettlebell to your eight-year-old and tell them to swing it around (seriously, do not do this). And your eight-year-old probably isn’t going to sit idly by while you work through your regular regimen. You’ll have to find some middle ground, and work through a few exercises that are equally fun and challenging for everybody.
HOKA has a few recommendations to keep in mind, but first, let’s start with the basics.
How much exercise do kids need?
Healthy growth and development require physical activity throughout the day for preschool-aged children (ages three through five), and an hour per day of more focused activity for kids aged six to 17, according to guidance from the Centers for Disease Control.
Adults should aim for 20-40 minutes per day of daily exercise, per the US Department of Health and Human Services.
So right away there’s a bit of a disparity – your kids need to be active for longer each day than you do. This is common knowledge to any parent, where the mission is to always play in ways that make the children expend more energy than you do. But now you know exactly how much more and how often.
Can my kid work out with me?
When building out a routine that works across generations, it’s best to focus on cardio and plyometric exercises, as this scales well across various body weights. They’re also the easiest to accomplish indoors at home or in the backyard or nearby park. Some light free weight training exercises (think soup can curls) are also fine after about age seven or so.
The CDC recommends three types of physical activity each week for children and adolescents:
- Aerobic activity, anything that elevates heart rate.
- Muscle-strengthening activity such as core work and isolated bodyweight exercises.
- Bone-strengthening activity that can involve any high-impact plyo exercise.
Keep all of this in mind while building out a cross-training circuit you can all enjoy.
Recommended intergenerational exercises
Based on recommended activity types, you can build an interchangeable circuit that works great for you and your kids, and have a field day even if it’s in your living room.
Mix and match from the following:
- Aerobic exercises like jump rope, dancing, running, steps, mountain climbers and more.
- Muscle-strengthening exercises such as pilates, planks, single-leg deadlifts, wall sits, push-ups, sit-ups, triceps dips, bridges, inchworms, lunges or squats.
- Bone-strengthening exercises, for example, jumping, ladder drills, burpees, circle jumps or jumping jacks.
Kid-friendly workout routines
Choosing exercises for a circuit that will be equally challenging for both you and your kids is the easy part. The most important aspect of building a great kid-friendly workout routine is finding a way to make it engaging for shorter attention spans.
The best advice is to get creative with how you frame the workout. “Ten burpees, ten pushups, five minutes of jump rope, ten lunges and a five-minute wall sit” doesn’t sound like as much fun as “The incredible yard games challenge” or “Space adventure super time” – even if they amount to the same thing.
Choose from exercises listed in the exercise section, and try the following ways to do do them together:
- Parent demo, kid challenge – you can do the circuit first to “show them how it’s done,” then sit back and watch as they give it a shot. Or try it the other way around, where they give you pointers. Remember, you don’t have to over-instruct on proper form. Just being active is good for a kid.
- Time trials – See if your kid can run a circuit faster than you can (spoiler alert: they probably can, but you can act like you didn’t get the timer right). For added fun, ask them to give you a head start then reward them for catching up.
- Silly versions – Challenge your kid to a variety of “silly” versions of each circuit that will engage their imagination – do it again like a unicorn, or a space alien. You can even get in the act too.
- Make a story – You’re not just exercising to exercise, you’re training to slay a dragon, or drilling to become an astronaut. Rename each exercise to fit the theme.
- Set up an obstacle course – what’s more fun for a kid (or adult) than an obstacle course?
As you look into exercises and modifications that work for both you and your little ones, keep in mind that you have an endless variety of props at your disposal.
Do elevated push-ups with your legs on couch cushions, make each station in the circuit into a “base” defined by a hula hoop, use a stuffed animal to help you measure lunge distance.
The more fun you have in your family workouts, the better mood you’ll both be in when it’s time to hop back on that business call or virtual classroom.
Good luck, and it’s Time to Fly™.