Looking for a fitness program that doesn’t require a gym membership or a new piece of exercise equipment? If you’ve got grandkids, look no further.
With more and more research touting the benefits of exercise for maintaining not just a healthy body but also a sharp mind, many older adults are taking their fitness seriously. And with rising childhood obesity rates, it’s more important than ever to help kids form healthy habits that include lots of exercise. Kill two birds with one stone by making time for physical activities with your grandkids.
Below are a few places to start. Remember to consult your doctor before trying any new exercise program.
You don’t need to climb Everest to get a great hiking workout. Excellent hikes can be found everywhere, including suburbs and cities. Whether it’s an urban stroll or an outdoor hike, pick a path that’s not too strenuous for you or your grandkids. If you aren’t sure, consult your doctor first. Let their imaginations run wild by sending them on scavenger hunts to find a certain kind of leaf, wildflower, or even animal tracks. For a true nature expedition, take them on a hiking trip. If you need a hand planning one, visit AARP’s travel planning site.
If you’ve got a longstanding golf habit, don’t keep it to yourself! Let your grandkids in on the action. In addition to teaching coordination, golf provides plenty of time for family interaction. If they’re not quite ready to swing a club, there’s plenty for children to explore on most golf courses—they might even find a few treasures, like lost golf balls or the perfect walking stick. Many golf courses offer golf lessons, “family courses” with tees closer to the pin and other activities for kids. Not quite ready for the full experience? How about some mini golf? Grab a putter and see who can make it past the spinning windmill on their first try.
3. Tai Chi
In China, it’s a common sight to see older adults practicing tai chi with children in public parks. Originally a defensive martial art, this cultural practice uses slow, graceful moves to move the invisible energy around you. Because it’s low-impact and noncompetitive, anyone can participate, regardless of age or physical abilities. Tai chi can be practiced outdoors or indoors, at home or at the park, and with the help of a teacher or simply by following a DVD, online video, or guide book.
Like tai chi, yoga requires little to no equipment or physical prowess. And thanks to its recent boom in popularity, there are classes readily available for people of any age or skill level. In fact, chances are that your grandkids have already been exposed to yoga, with many public schools already offering classes to students. Some studios offer intergenerational classes that you can take with your grandkids. Look for a yoga studio near you or try a few simple poses for yourself. Your local community center may have a few affordable classes as well.
5. Dance (let them teach you!)
Do you have a grandchild who loves to dance? Have they learned a routine from a class, YouTube or a video game? Why not give them a turn as the instructor? It can be a rewarding experience to give kids a chance to show you a thing or two about what they’ve learned. In addition to getting both of you moving, letting them teach you a dance routine can build their self-confidence and bring you closer together. Plus, dancing brings multiple health benefits, including better flexibility and increased cognitive function.
If you’ve ever played fitness games on a video game system, you already know why it’s become more than a passing fad. Studies have shown that many of these games can improve your balance and coordination. “Exergaming,” as it’s often called, has multigenerational appeal thanks to its low cost (once you’ve shelled out a few hundred for the gaming system), easy learning curve, and appeal with today’s tech-savvy kids.
Hopefully you now have some inspiration for your next activity-packed day with the whippersnappers. So go on out there, and try something new! Your body will appreciate it, and your grandkids will too.