If you’re like most of us, getting more exercise is on your short list for New Year’s resolutions. Even if you don’t have five extra pounds to shed, you’re probably committed to squeezing in an extra workout, or doing one more situp or ten more miles a week.
Why not build some of that workout fun into your family routine. Here are some great activities things to add to your morning routine (or your bedtime routine), to bring the family together, and emphasize the importance of movement and mindfulness in your daily life.
Science shows that even five minutes of being still and quiet can improve your productivity and creativity for the rest of the day. There are several terrific apps that you can add to your phone to help you create a peaceful environment, set a timer, and get in a little quiet time before the day starts. Our favorite? InsightTimer.com. The reason it’s our favorite? It’s got everything from simple timers to guided meditations lasting as little as one minute, and as long as you might like. We love it because it also tells you how many people around the world are meditating at the same time (and there’s a pin on a world map to reinforce the concepts - a great opportunity to learn a little geography, have a little quiet time, and feel like you’re part of something bigger).
We know the day can be hectic, but if you can, set aside five minutes and sit together, in a circle or a line, and have a quiet moment.
The Five Minute Workout
Build a simple and fun plan to take five minutes after the cereal and before you walk out the door, to do a quick stretch or raise your heart rate a little. We know it’s hard to plan a big fancy workout, so why not wing it?
- Have some themes (like Monday Mamba and Thursday Thighs).
- Build themes that mimic ideas in science, geography, biology, etc… why not have “Zoo” exercise day and do activities that are like animals (hop like a kangaroo, walk like a chicken, swing your “trunk” like an elephant, leap like a frog, lay flat like a snake, walk like a crab, etc)
- Do a little research on YouTube and find a short workout video you love and follow along as a family. We did a quick search of “five minute workouts for kids” and found several fun videos that are perfect for young kids.
- Let the kids be in charge of the exercise, have them take turns “owning” a workout (you can always help with some simple prompts to keep things flowing).
Keep it simple - exercises as easy as marching in place and stepping side to side can elevate the heart rate a little and get kids moving
Here’s an example of a fun five-minute “nature” workout:
- Reach for the STARS: Stretch your arms above your head and reach for the sky, then reach for your toes (30 seconds)
- Twist like a TORNADO: Twist your torso back and forth as far as you can go, try one or two very slowly, then go faster and swing your arms (30 seconds)
- March like the ANTS: in place slowly, then fast, then slow down again (30 seconds)
- Leap like the FROGS: squat down, then jump up, then squat, then jump (30 seconds)
- Box like a Kangaroo: jog in place and punch the air one punch at a time (yes, we know Kangaroos don’t really box) (30 seconds)
- Be strong like a STONE bridge: lay on your stomach and then lift up to a plank, hold the plank for 30 seconds (30 seconds)
- Moving the MOUNTAINS and the MOON: Lay flat on your back, bring your knees in to represent the mountains, then back out and then in - go slowly, then faster (that’s the mountains). Then raise your torso/head up like the sun is rising over the mountains (sit ups). Go slowly for the sunrise, and back down. After five or six “sunrises” you could alternate mountains, moon, mountains, moon, etc. (1 minute)
- Grow like a TREE: Start as a small ball with your feet flat on the floor - slowly unfurl and begin to stand up straight - stretch your back, then touch your toes and straighten your legs, finally, stand tall and straight, with your arms out like branches, be still for 30 seconds and listen to your breathing. (1 minute total)
Simon Says and Red Light, Green Light
These vintage games are great fun for getting the blood flowing to the brain and giggles rolling around the house. Take turns with Simon Says with the understanding that whomever is Simon has to go as fast as possible and do things that get your blood going.
For Red Light, Green Light, the “stop light” can specify the movement. For example: You have to do jumping jacks until I say Red Light.
Whether you are squeezing these fun activities into your morning routine, or doing a little Jazzercise before you sit down to dinner, we promise a five-minute workout will pay off. Not only is it fun for everyone, it also relieves stress, and gives you parents the chance to be a little goofy in front of your kids (always a great thing!)