5 Fitness Challenges to Get the Whole Family Moving

There’s nothing like a little friendly competition to bring the family closer. So why not turn your plain-old, ordinary exercises into a family fitness challenge.

Experts recommend individuals spend at least 150 minutes per week exercising or being active, so we’ve compiled a list of exercises that can easily be converted into fitness challenges for you and the whole family to do together. Completing one or two of these challenges a week will help you satisfy that weekly workout requirement. Group challenges inevitably motivate you to push yourself a harder, and they can even help you squeeze out an extra rep (or two or three).

The cherry on top is that these fitness challenges don’t require any hardcore workout equipment; all you need is maybe a few chairs, some floor space, and a few willing participants. Below are five of our favorite:

Mountain Climbers:

Begin in plank position, hands under your shoulders, arms straight, head looking forward. Keeping your back straight, bring one knee to your chest, then back to plank. Repeat with the other leg, increasing speed as you go. See who can last the longest!


A great way to get out frustration and pent up energy, jabs are a good workout for even the most devout pacifist. To start, get into a “fighting stance” — abs tight, hands in fists guarding your chin, shoulders relaxed, hips should-width apart. On an exhale, punch straight with one arm without locking the elbow. Return to starting position and repeat. Who will get tired first?

Bicycle Crunches:

This one will have everyone feeling the burn. Tighten up those abs with this grueling bicycle crunch challenge. Lie on your back with your feet on the floor, knees bent, hands behind your ears. Press your lower back into the floor, engage your abs, and lift you head, shoulders and upper back. At the same time, twist to bring your right elbow to your left knee while simultaneously straightening your right leg. It’s like peddling a bike… only worse. First to 100 crunches wins!

Monday Mile:

Who will reach the finish line first? Speed walk, jog, run — it doesn’t matter how your family chooses to complete the task. Map out a cool trail through town or some other more rural paths. Along with your weekly Monday Mile, look for any charity walks or runs raising money for a cause that you and your family support.

Push-Up and Rotation:

If misery loves company, you’ll want the whole family here for this one. The push-up and rotation targets your abs, triceps, upper back, chest, and shoulders, making it a complete upper-body and core workout. Begin in a push-up position with your body off the floor. After one push-up, twist your body to the right and raise your right arm to the ceiling, into a side plank. Return to start and repeat on the other side. Set a timer for three minutes – who can do the most?

Restless Kids are No Match for These Fun (and Foolproof) Move It Monday Activities

But what’s a parent to do when they’ve got a couple of little ones bouncing off the walls? Instead of trying to get Chris and Sally to sit down to a puzzle, board game, or art project, use Monday as an opportunity to get everyone moving.We’ve picked some awesome Move It Monday actives to help the kids expend all of that excess energy: No iPad, X-Box, or television required!

Build an Obstacle Course

Let your imagination (and children) run wild with an obstacle course. Shift around the furniture, throw in some pillows, create some corridors, and send your kids on a fun journey through the house and into the yard. Need some inspiration? Consider adding in a puzzle half-way through the obstacle course or make a section that requires kids to crawl, hop, or wiggle their way through to the end.

Wacky Races

Go beyond the typical running race and introduce your kids to some cool and funky variations. Three-legged and wheel barrow races are always a hit, but you can also add in a crab walk, hop scotch, jump rope, or soccer ball to ramp up the fun. The more creative you get, the more captivated your audience.

Family Freeze Tag

This activity is perfect for a bigger group and a spacious backyard. Freeze tag is a classic, but the camaraderie necessary to rescue your frozen teammates can get even mom’s and dad’s adrenaline pumping. The stopping-and-starting of freeze tag allows you to exert a burst of energy — and then rest. In case you’ve forgotten, here’s a refresher on the rules: One person is “it” (they do the tagging); everyone else runs around until they are tagged. Once tagged, you remain “frozen” with your legs set wide apart until another player crawls through them, which unfreezes you. The game finishes when all players are frozen (or the “it” gets too tired).

Freeze Dance

If you’ve got a lot of kids to entertain, there’s nothing better than a groovy game of freeze dance. Put on some pop hits, grunge, gospel, rock, rap, Disney tunes, or whatever other music you fancy and start dancing. When the music is stopped (someone will have to be the DJ), anyone who is still moving is out. The last person standing wins!

Unwind with a Yoga Session

Yoga is the ideal indoor-exercise. Requiring only a few square feet of space, yoga’s low-impact movements help support both the physical and mental wellbeing of you and your family.

What sets yoga apart from other forms of exercise is that it can be practiced by people of all different ages and fitness levels. Even with minimal experience, you’ll start feeling the benefits almost immediately, which is why a daily family yoga session is key to keeping everyone spry, stress-free, and occupied.

Keeping everyone in control of their bodies is a key element of yoga, especially when younger children are participating. For families, we recommend form a circle and start with some basic standing poses like tree pose and warrior pose.

For the tree pose, stand on one leg and make a triangle with your other by raising your knee and foot until the sole rests just below the knee of your standing leg. After you find your balance, reach your arms up above you like the branches of a tree and look ahead. Hold and return to starting position (check out the illustration to see the tree pose in action).

For the warrior pose, spread your feet a bit wider than your shoulders so that your body makes a triangle. While looking ahead, turn your left foot 90 degrees and raise both arms to the sky. Swivel your right arm forward and your left arm back, and extend and bend your left knee over your ankle, letting your hips sink gently toward the floor. Look in the direction of the bent knee and hold for five seconds (click here to see the pose).

And remember, it’s okay to lose your balance; yoga is a continuous learning process that, with practice, will lead to improved confidence, concentration, and ability.

Decatur Parks & Recreation offers various Yoga options catering to different age groups:

Slow Flow Yoga: Find tranquility every Tuesday at 10 am at Decatur Rec.

Deep Stretch Yoga: Unwind and rejuvenate every Thursday at 10 am at Decatur Rec.

New Class Alert: Introducing Yoga at Ebster Rec! 🎉
Immerse yourself in invigorating yoga sessions perfect for everyone, whether you’re a beginner or seasoned practitioner. Dive into dynamic flows, align your body, practice breathwork, and embrace meditation techniques that soothe the mind and nurture the soul.

🗓️ Yoga at Ebster Rec Details:
📅 Day: Mondays
⏰ Time: 4:30-5:30 p.m.
📆 Sessions: 8/28, 9/11, 9/18, 9/25

Calling All Kids: Explore Yoga & Mindful Art Camps! 🧘‍♂️🎨
Unlock playful poses, mindfulness games, and tools for self-regulation in these exciting camps. Kids will learn a variety of yoga postures, engage in mindfulness activities, and create artful crafts that carry their newfound skills home. With meditation techniques and breathwork, they’ll be equipped to navigate real-world situations.

Kids Yoga & Mindful Art Camp:
📅 Day: 11/20, 11/21
⏰ Time: 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.
👶 Age: 5-9 years
🥪 Don’t forget a healthy lunch and water bottle!

Kids Yoga & Mindful Art Camp:
📅 Days: 9/30, 10/28, 12/9
⏰ Time: 12:30-3:30 p.m.
🧒 Age: 9-13 years
🥪 Remember a healthy snack and water bottle!

Here’s Why Warmups and Cooldowns Need to be Part of Your Workout Routine

Warming up and cooling down are two important components of every fitness routine, but how can you use them to improve the quality of your workout? 

Benefits of a Warmup

Although there’s no strict definition for what constitutes a “warmup,” the basic idea is doing an activity or exercise at a slower pace to help prepare the body for more intense aerobic workout.A warmup gradually engages your cardiovascular system, which raises your body temperature and increases blood flow to the muscles. This improves the elasticity (the stretchiness of muscle tissue) and can help reduce muscle tightness, pain, and risk of injury.A warmup can also be an exercise in itself. Stretching during or immediately after your warmup can improve your flexibility in both the long and short term. Just remember to stretch after you’ve done a short aerobic exercise to get the blood flowing to your muscles.Properly warming up before a workout can also benefit your mental state. If you start your fitness routine with heavy weights or a strenuous aerobic fitness routine, you’re more likely to be discouraged. Starting slowly and easing yourself into your exercises gradually prepares you for a full and effective workout. 

Benefits of a Cooldown

After you finishing a workout, a 10-minute cooldown allows body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure to return to their normal levels. Stopping an intense exercise abruptly without a cool down can possibly lead to dizziness or even fainting.Cooldown exercises, like stretching, walking, foam rolling, and deep breathing, can help lower your risk of injury and reduce stress to the heart and other muscles.If you’re looking to incorporate more stretching into your workout routine, try starting with some beginner yoga poses. Stretching helps improve your flexibility as well as range of motion around the joints, while also benefitting balance and bone health. This Monday, take a few extra minutes before and after your workout to fit in a warmup and cooldown.

How to Prepare Your Body for a Workout

Are you looking to start or return to a normal exercise routine? By making the decision to be more physically active, you’ve already taken the first step towards a healthier you. But in order to establish a consistent exercise schedule, you need to prepare your body.Thankfully, preparing for physical activity is pretty simple; you just need to focus on a few specific areas. By putting in a little time beforehand, you’ll reduce your risk of injury and get the most out of your workout. This Monday, learn all you need to know about readying your body and mind for exercise. 

Stay Hydrated by Drinking Water

The human body depends on water to help get rid of wastes, regulate temperature, keep joints healthy, and protect sensitive tissues. Being dehydrated will make you feel tired and drained of energy—not exactly how you want to feel before a workout.So how much water should you drink? Well, that depends on your body size, the weather, and the duration/intensity of exercise. Feeling thirsty is a clear sign of dehydration, but you can also check the color of your urine: pale or clear urine is an indication that you’re well hydrated, while a dark yellow color is a sign that you should drink more water. 

Power Your Workout with Proper Nutrition

What you eat before and after you exercise is almost as important as the workout itself. Food is your fuel—it gives you the energy necessary to be active and focused, and it also provides the nutrients required to build muscle and bone strength, as well as help the body recover post workout.Before exercising, try to stick with eating carbohydrates that won’t upset the stomach, such as bananas, oatmeal, or whole grain bread. For a post-workout meal, eat a combination of protein, carbohydrates, and fats. Foods high in protein allow the body to build new muscle tissue, while carbohydrate-rich foods are better for after a run or another endurance exercise. Refuel your body with foods like beans, quinoa, or Greek yogurt. 

Warm Up and Cool Down

Starting physical activity with a warmup and concluding it with a cooldown can help you improve the quality of your workout. A warmup raises your body temperature and increases blood flow to the muscles. This improves the stretchiness of the muscle tissue and can help reduce muscle tightness, pain, and risk of injury. Although there’s no strict definition for what constitutes a “warmup,” the basic idea is doing an activity or exercise at a slower pace (stretching, using lighter weights) to help prepare the body for more intense movement.After moderate physical activity, a 10-minute cooldown allows body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure to return to their normal levels. Cooldown exercises, like stretching, walking, foam rolling, and deep breathing, can help lower your risk of injury and reduce stress to the heart and other muscles. 

Stretch for Success

Stretching is more than just a warmup. By improving your flexibility through stretching, you are effectively lowering your risk of injury and pain, broadening range motion, improving posture, and bettering body control and stability. And most importantly, being more flexible makes every-day activities easier: from getting out of bed to walking up stairs to reaching a high cabinet.Stretching seems simple—and it is—but there are some general guidelines to follow to help you avoid injury. First, warm up with a few minutes of brisk walking. When starting a stretch, always moves gently and smoothly into position, stopping when you feel any sort of sharp pain. Initially, you’ll want to hold stretches for between 10 and 20 seconds, but as you get more comfortable, you can extend the hold time for as long as 30 seconds. Don’t know where to start? Check out our list of beginner stretches and stretching tips.Make this Monday your day to get active. For more information on how you can prepare yourself for exercise, click here.

Exercise Your Way to a Restful Night’s Sleep

Don’t underestimate the healing properties of a good night’s sleep. Scientists have studied the subject extensively, and have concluded that sleep, although a bit mysterious, plays a critical role in immune function, metabolism, memory, learning, and other vital processes.

Falling asleep can be difficult, especially if you’re stressed, anxious, or uncomfortable, but there’s a natural sleep aid that’s easy and accessible to everyone — exercise. Research suggests that moderate physical activity can decrease instances of sleep complaints and insomnia, and can make a notable difference/improvement in sleep quality. Moderate aerobic exercise increases the amount of slow wave sleep (also referred to as deep sleep) you get each night. This category of sleep gives the brain and body a chance to rejuvenate, and can also help stabilize mood and benefit cognitive functioning.

And while exercise at all times of day is generally considered good for sleep, exercising at the right time can be even better. If the evening is your optimal exercise window, try working out at least 2 hours before bed; this gives your brain and body time to wind down. The exercise doesn’t have to be especially rigorous, try some light aerobic exercise like a jog, fast-paced walk, or even some yoga, stretching, or tai chi. After 30 – 90 minutes post workout, your body’s core temperature should return to normal, which makes for prime sleeping conditions.

Power Up Your Fitness this Monday with Group Activities

Planks, jumping jacks, mountain climbers – when you do them together it can be more fun, more challenging, and science says, better for you. Build a routine on Monday with some fresh ideas for group fitness.Need some ideas to get motivated?

  • Group Challenges – We’ve got five great group challenges to share. Do some jabs or high knees with your colleagues this Monday – it will bring you together and be a collective stress buster. Pow! It’s much better than an office water cooler.
  • Friends & Family – Get a friend or family member and schedule regular times to meet at the gym, work out at a nearby park, or follow along to a fitness routine in your living room. Even 30 minutes a few times a week will make a difference.
  • Take a Class – cardio, Tango, Zumba, strength training, swimming, yoga, Pilates, spin – the list of classes offered at a neighborhood gym or community center will surprise you. A good instructor will have a following and be a cheerleader, able to get everyone in the mood to stretch their limits, together.

In a study comparing results from group fitness and individual fitness, group exercise participants made greater improvements in all areas, including stress reduction.

Strength Training with What You’ve Got on Hand

If you’re just starting with a new strength-training regimen or trying to maintain a healthy weight, the last thing you want to think about is spending money on heavy weights and elaborate machinery. Exercise equipment can be expensive, cumbersome, and bulky, which is why it often ends up covered in cobwebs rather than sweat. But you don’t need a treadmill, weights, or a squat rack to build muscle at home; with a little creativity, you can fashion a number of household items into fitness gear.

If you want to recreate the feeling of free weights, look no further than your kitchen or pantry. Cans of soups or beans typically weigh 1 – 2 pounds; they are also the right shape to fit snuggly in the palm of your hand, making them perfect for bicep curls and tricep extensions. The next door to explore is that of your refrigerator. A quart of liquid (juice, milk, water, etc.) weighs approximately 4 – 5 pounds (you can step up the weight by using a gallon jug, which weighs closer to 8 pounds). These bottles are easy to grip, which is why they’re useful for exercises that engage a number of muscle groups like body squats, lunges, or shoulder presses.

For a workout that strengthens your core, grab a couple of hand towels. Yes, you read correctly. By placing a towel under each foot, you can do a number of different abdominal exercises — mountain climbers, knee tucks, and feet pikes — more effectively. This Monday, change up your workout by engineering your own equipment.

Source: Strength Training with What You’ve Got on Hand

Outdoor Activities for a Summer Time Sweat

There’s no substitute for being outdoors. The fresh air, the sunshine, the cool breeze — it’s all invigorating, especially if you’ve been cooped up inside. This Monday, let nature be your gymnasium by adding some outside-activities to your workout routine.

Exercising in a park or wooded area, especially during the summer months, is an excellent way to experience all the sights, sounds, and smells of nature while also getting in your daily physical activity.

But what can you do to stay fit outdoors? A whole lot. Sure, you can start with a simple jog to warm up, but there are many more interesting/exhilarating activities you can do outside, depending on the type of adventure you seek.


Even at a leisurely pace, biking offers a number of health benefits including increased cardiovascular ability and muscle strength, decreased stress levels, and improved posture and mobility. When riding in the park, try to wear bright or fluorescent colors so that pedestrians can easily see you from a distance away.


Weeding, planting, watering, and harvesting can do you a lot of good. Gardening has been shown to improve vitamin D exposure, boost mood, and reduce risk of dementia. Squatting, bending, and sweating is good for the soul as well as joint health and mobility.

Lawn Sports

Frisbee, croquet, and horseshoes don’t have to be relegated to backyard cookouts. These leisurely sports can be a great source of low-intensity physical activity. They’re mobile, simple to set up, and they can be quite entertaining if you’ve got a competitive side.

Nature Hike

It can be through a park, wooded area, or even your own backyard, taking a nature hike (or walk) is one-part physical activity, one-part stress relief. Call your local park service; they should be able to direct you to a list of approved trails and hikes.


Lake, pond, or pool, swimming is a great aerobic exercise that will keep you cool and refreshed (and maybe a little out of breath). Try doing laps or make a game out of it if you’re with a friend or partner.

Source: Outdoor Activities for a Summer Time Sweat

Achieve Your Fitness Goals with Family and Friends this Monday

family fitness walking

study looking at group fitness showed that physical, mental, and emotional quality of life improves when participants exercise together. It could also lead to a significant improvement in mood and well-being.

So, instead of working out solo, grab a friend, or your whole family. Here are some fun group fitness ideas:

  • Take a fitness class together like Zumba or Pilates
  • Walk or jog a Monday Mile
  • Grab some bikes and take a bike ride
  • Do some mini-exercises together
  • Sign-up for a dance class, where partners are part of the fun!
  • Roll out your mats and take a yoga class
  • Organize a game in a court, like basketball or volleyball

Do some group fitness with your family and friends on Monday to be happy and healthy, together.