The family that plays together… Stays healthy, happy – and, yes, together

Regardless of your age, exercise should be a part of your routine, even for kids. 

Thirty percent of adults and 12 percent of children in South Dakota are obese. Type 2 diabetes among children is on the rise. But with today’s busy families, it can be hard for parents and children to find the time for fitness. Between daycare drop-offs, after-school pickups, extracurricular activities, shopping and everything else, exercise can wind up at the bottom of the to-do list.

One solution: Turn your fitness into family fun. Doing activities as a family brings everyone together in a fun and interactive manner. It allows the whole family to be healthier, achieve new goals together, and provides a bonding experience. 

An added bonus – if your kids see you exercising and taking your health seriously, they are more likely to grow up with the same healthy habits they see in you.

Things to remember when planning family fitness:


Unlike adults, children don’t exercise for their health. They don’t care about cholesterol, they’re not impressed by six-pack abs and getting 10,000 steps is SO BORING! But give a kid a soccer ball, a big green field and opposing team, and the fitness will follow. If they are entertained, they won’t notice that they’re exercising.


In the Black Hills, we’re blessed to have multiple outdoor opportunities just outside our door. We can mountain bike the Mickelson Trail. We can hike the Centennial Trail. We can take family backpacking
 trips into the Black Elk Wilderness.

The opportunities don’t end when the weather turns cold. A family pass at Terry Peak Ski Area will get you a winter’s worth of fresh air, sunshine and outdoor fun.


When you play nontraditional games such as badminton, disc golf, hacky sack or foursquare, the playing field is automatically leveled. Nobody has an advantage, and you get to learn together how to play.


For youngsters, there is something empowering
 about being in charge of the game the family plays. And when it’s someone else’s turn, they are more willing to play because they get to pick the next game. 

Translation: No back-seat bickering… OK, maybe less bickering. They are siblings, after all. 


Remember, if what you do as a family appeals to everyone’s sense of fun, adventure, new experiences and family bonding, your exercise routine will be anything but routine.

written by Morgan Foster

Manager of Performance Enhancement at Monument Health Sports Performance Institute Powered by EXOS.