Source: Indys Child Parenting Magazine

Family Fitness You Can Afford
Fitness Together Creates Bonds...and Saves Money

April 01, 2010

Finding that you’ve grown a regular crop of couch potatoes over the winter? Wondering why it’s so hard to motivate your family to get out of the house? Looking for a solution to a little extra flab yourself? It might be time to get fit.

Studies have shown that regular exercise can improve heart health and curb excessive weight gain. People – of all ages – who are physically fit tend to be happier, more productive, and experience a better overall sense of well-being. So, what’s keeping you and your family from getting fit?

Motivation can be one problem; finances can be another. In today’s economy, a tight budget and braces to pay for can preclude expensive tennis lessons and club soccer fees. No doubt, family exercise is an important investment, but is there a way to be both physically and fiscally fit?

You bet there is! The following are ways that your family can exercise and spend time together – all in a budget-friendly way.

• Take a hike. Sunshine, fresh air, and some exercise are easy to come by if you explore local hiking and walking trails. Pack water bottles and some trail mix as well as a small first aid kit. Check with your local county parks and recreation department for more details on the paths that are available to you. You’ll be pleasantly surprised what the great outdoors has in store.

• Hit the road. Bicycling is a great family-friendly activity. Prepare your children with helmets and a review of bicycle safety. When possible, stick to official bike paths and make sure to tote along water bottles and a cell phone or phone card in case of emergencies. Don’t have a bike? Check out and other sites that help people get rid of used stuff without paying someone to haul it away. You’d be surprised the grabs you’ll find!

• Get a Wii bit of exercise. Believe it or not, there are several Wii games that provide a fair workout. While you might think you need more than one balance board, many activities, like yoga, can be done without it. Don’t have one? Check out your local library or ask to start a WiiFit community program. Many now provide fitness activities and/or Wii game nights.

• Jump right in. Swimming is an economical way to exercise as a family, particularly when you purchase a season’s pass to the pool, or if you live near a beach or lake. Review water safety with older children and obtain swimming lessons for those who aren’t yet water safe. Not only is swimming good exercise, but it’s also a valuable life skill. Can’t afford the pool? Check out local gyms and recreation centers to find out when they have “free swim” days.

• Get ready to play. Craigslist, thrift stores and yard sales are great places to acquire gently used sporting equipment. Browse the selection of new and used items at stores like Play It Again Sports. Outfit your family with bats, balls and mitts and join another family for a game of softball. Install a basketball hoop in the driveway for easy pick up games. Keep a soccer ball and Frisbee in the car at all times so that no matter where you are, you can run around and get the heart pumping.

• Walk down memory lane. Remember the days of Capture the Flag and Freeze Tag? Parents today still remember what it was to play field games until dusk instead of texting or playing video games indoors. Think about the different outdoor games you once played and pass that legacy on to your children. In case you forgot some of them, check out a book on outdoor games, such as The Kids Summer Games Book, to refresh your memory and maybe learn some new ones. Pick up a copy of Let’s Go Outside: Outdoor Activities and Projects to Get You and Your Kids Closer to Nature by Jennifer Ward.

With a little creative thinking, you and your family can break a sweat and have some family fun all at the same time.

Jessica Fisher is a wife, mother, and freelance writer, making her home in San Diego. She regularly writes about family fun, frugality, and the pursuit of a clean house at and shares budget-friendly recipes at

Web Resources:


The Kids Summer Games Book: Official Book of Games to Play by Jane Drake

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Camping and Hiking by Michael Mouland

Parents’ Guide to Hiking and Camping by Alice Cary

Babes in the Woods: Hiking, Camping & Boating with Babies and Young Children by Jennifer Aist

Hiking with Kids: Taking Those First Steps with Young Hikers by Robin Tawney Nichols

Let’s Go Outside: Outdoor Activities and Projects to Get You and Your Kids Closer to Nature by Jennifer Ward