Family Fitness Across the Generations

3 ways to get the whole family fit -- together

By Wendy C. Fries
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Feature

Reviewed By Michael Smith, MD

Exercise is good for the body. Family togetherness is good for the spirit. So why not put two good things together and do a workout the whole family can enjoy?

Here are three types of exercise that can include kids, parents, and grandparents, providing fitness and fun for everyone from 7 to 77.

Walking: The Perennial Favorite

Almost everyone can walk, and we can do it just about anywhere, from tots and parents strolling the sidewalks to grandparents and grandkids speed-walking at the mall.

We all know that regular physical activity, like walking, helps control weight and reduces risks for heart attack, cancer, diabetes, and high blood pressure. But walking is more than good for you -- it can also add pleasure to your day.

"Don't forget to up the fun," advises Brigitte Mesa, a walking enthusiast who lives in New Jersey.

We're all more likely to exercise when it's disguised as something else, Mesa says. That's why she and her husband spice up their walking workouts with Frisbee throwing, nature hikes, dog walks, sightseeing, and picnics in the park.

Here are more tips for fun walking workouts, from WebMD Weight Loss Clinic members and other locomotion lovers:

  • Have a favorite family restaurant nearby? Walk there (and, of course, keep an eye on portion sizes once you arrive).
  • Encourage your kids to walk to school, then join them. If you have toddlers who can't keep up with the big kids, bring them along in their own little red wagon.
  • Walk for a cause. The National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Avon, The March of Dimes, and many other groups put on walks to raise money for good causes.
  • Take to the hills! Even moderate hills get the heart pumping. If it's a grassy and not-too-steep slope, try rolling to the bottom along with the kids.
  • When it's cold out, bundle up and enjoy walking-related activities like snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.
  • On balmy days, try playing tag at the beach, hiking around a pond, or roller-skating.
  • Wet outside? Grab your group for a couple of loops around the mall. Walk, speed-walk, climb up and down the stairs -- and keep on moving past the food court!

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