Active Ideas 6-10
6. Have a weekly sports night.
Every Wednesday, for example, get everyone up and moving. One game to play is the fit-deck shuffle. Create a series of playing cards featuring family-friendly exercises, such as bear-crawling or ape-walking. Each family member picks a card and performs the exercise pictured until all the cards have been dealt. You can also buy a ready-made set of exercise cards from FitDeck (fitdeck.com).
7. Walk or run for charity.
Model the value of exercise -- and of giving back to society -- by teaming up with your children for a fund-raising race. When her husband and father-in-law participated in the Father's Day Race for Prostate Cancer, Jodi Zielinski, of Upper Montclair, New Jersey, took her 3-year-old daughter, Noa, to watch them run. When the race was over, she entered Noa in the kids' race that followed. "She didn't win but she had a great time," says Zielinski, who hopes to make it an annual family tradition.
8. Put kids to work in the yard.
If autumn brings down leaves in your area, make a game out of catching them on a windy day -- see who can catch the most yellow, orange, or red ones, suggests Zuercher. Then rake them into piles -- give the kids child-sized rakes so they can help -- and have fun jumping in them, or take turns completely covering one another in leaves. After a snowfall, let kids help clear the porch or walkway, then see who can make the most snow angels. Older kids can help build a snowman -- and even toss a few snowballs.
9. Team up for gardening.
Kids are great at digging up dirt, so let them turn over the soil and help you plant new bulbs. Research shows that gardening is as good as weight training when it comes to preventing osteoporosis, and if you're planting vegetables, it can make them more appetizing to kids. Dawn Schwartz, of Livingston, New Jersey, has her 3-year-old daughter, Samantha, help water the plants. "She loves to mush her hands in the soil," she says. In the summer, set up a sprinkler to water the lawn and challenge kids to duck the droplets.
10. Walk the dog.
New research from North American Association on the Study of Obesity shows that dog-owners had more fun losing weight and were able to keep it off longer than non-pup-owners. Don't have a pooch? Go look for some. Somers, New York, mom Mary Rose Almasi gets her two kids, ages 5 and 3, to go for a walk after dinner by suggesting they go "looking for dogs." "Luckily, there are a few at the end of my long street. That's the carrot I dangle," she says. "It works like a charm."
Aviva Patz is a mother of two daughters in Montclair, New Jersey.