Health & Science

31-day “Move your body” family challenge

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With the start of the new year, families may be inspired to prioritize their health, create new exercise routines, and try more fun activities together. Of course January sees a flurry of adults vowing to exercise more—but why not include the whole family to make those plans more realistic and less likely to fall to the wayside come March?

If you find ways to incorporate physical movement into family bonding activities, and to make these activities really fun and inspired, it’s a win-win. Follow along with our 31-day move your body family challenge for creative ideas to make it happen!

Even if you don’t stick with this level of physical movement throughout the year, that doesn’t have to be seen as a failure—you’ll likely find a few activities here that you’ll turn to in the future when you need a pick-me-up, plus you’ll teach kids that fun and exercise come in many forms.

Day 1: Music video star

Watch your favorite family-friendly music videos and try to follow along with the moves. If you get the routine down, you can make your own family music video to share with friends.

Day 2: At-home hoops

If you don’t have a (toy or real) basketball hoop at home or in a nearby park—or if it’s just too cold to play outside—set up a couple of baskets and buckets around the house and play a hoop-shooting game like HORSE.

Day 3: Skating rink

If you can find an open rink near you, ice skating and roller skating both make for a wonderful family outing because you can rent the equipment on site in every size, all family members can be challenged but still go at their own pace, and you can hold hands while doing it.

Day 4: Animal poses

Practice these animal yoga poses that can help kids work on physical strength, agility, and flexibility, as well as their mental attention and focus.

Day 5: Online dance lesson

Choose a type of dance that no one in your household has much experience with—whether it’s K-Pop, ballet, or bhangra—and look up an online dance lesson that your family can try together. You may dissolve in giggles or you may discover a new passion!

Day 6: Fitness instructor

Take turns leading a family exercise class at home. Even the little ones can make up creative moves for everyone else to try!

Day 7: Measure jumps

On a field, playground, or even an off-season beach, have a contest where you mark and measure how far each person can jump, either with a running start (long jump) or with a standing start (broad jump), or both. You can also measure jumping height or vertical reach by using a wall and some tape. Then everyone might be motivated to beat their own jumping record or others’!

Day 8: Try juggling

You don’t need any fancy equipment to practice juggling, and it’s great for the brain as well as physical coordination. Small balls, oranges, bean bags, or balled-up socks will do the trick! Start with two objects and move on to three when you’re ready.

Day 9: Hopscotch

Get out some chalk and make a hopscotch board in the park or on the driveway, or make an indoor one by putting tape on the floor, and relive this old-school game!

Day 10: Nature walk

Nature preserves and hiking trails can be refreshingly beautiful in any season. (Check park websites first for any seasonal safety guidelines.) On your walk, see what you can notice about what the plants and animals do at this time of year—while getting in some exercise.

Day 11: Balancing contests

See who can stand on one leg for the longest, or who can tiptoe along a piece of tape backwards without falling. You can even make your own surfing balance board with a board and a cylinder.

Day 12: Footprint tag

Go outside to play footprint tag in the snow or on the sand. In this version of tag, players can only step in each other’s footprints. Start the game by letting everyone run around for 20 seconds to make scattered footprints.

Day 13: Obstacle course

Set up an indoor course that kids (and maybe adults!) have to make it through. Think: tunnels made from big boxes or blankets, a web of strings to navigate between, and stepping stones made of wooden blocks or pieces of cardboard. For an added challenge, time them on the first run and then see if they can increase their speed.

Day 14: Acrobatics 101

Challenge each family member to learn a very simple gymnastics move such as a log roll, handstand against a wall, a forward roll, or balancing along a “beam” made of tape on the floor. Watch some beginner videos first for safety tips.

Day 15: Hallway bowling

Set up pins (empty plastic bottles will do) and see who can knock the most down! Or if you’re up for it, plan a family outing to a bowling alley.

Day 16: DIY weights

Make a few “weights” of different sizes using bottles and containers filled with water or rice, bags filled with potatoes, etc. Then line them up in relative order from light to heavy. Have each family member see which ones they can pick up comfortably. Then each person can choose one weight to do reps together, if desired.

Day 17: Walking race

Split the family into two groups (if possible) and go on a walk in the neighborhood. Have each group choose a different route, and predict who will get home—or to a certain meeting spot—faster. Then switch routes and test it out again! You can even use a stopwatch to make things official.

Day 18: Roads for toy cars

Make a road map by stretching lengths of tape across the floor or patio/deck, and get out all of the toy cars and trucks for kids to zoom around their new city. The big layout will make them move their bodies a lot more to get from place to place.

Day 19: Balloon tennis

Using balloons or beach balls, you can play a version of tennis or ping pong indoors without breaking anything (probably). Make simple racquets using paper plates and a stick or tongue depressor.

Day 20: Synchronized wiggles

Watch an Olympic-level artistic swimming routine and then have kids try to make up their own version—on the rug. Take a video of their routine to show them how coordinated (or not) they were, then see if they want to try again to synchronize their moves.

Day 21: Zigzag course

Set out a series of cones, cups, or other markers and try to run or skip in a zigzag pattern without knocking them down. This challenge can also be done on bikes or scooters, with toy cars or doll strollers, or whatever your kids are into!

Day 22: Animal races

Hold a series of silly races where participants have to be a different animal for each race. Some great “walks” that’ll keep kids moving and entertained include bear walk, crab walk, frog jump, and bunny hop. Get creative!

Day 23: Kids’ yoga

Doubtful that your kids would stay engaged in a yoga class? Try a kid-oriented yoga lesson such as one from the story-centered Cosmic Kids or Kids Yoga Stories series, or a child-led class like those from Yogi Yogi Sisters.

Day 24: Chopsticks challenge

Using either chopsticks or spoons, have everyone practice motor skills and coordination by racing to transfer items (such as nuts, raisins, marshmallows, or cereal) from one bowl to another. To get them moving their whole bodies and add to the challenge, place the empty bowl at the other end of the table or on the other side of the room.

Day 25: Count stairs

Stair-climbing is an excellent cardio and strength workout, but to get everyone in the family into the challenge, have them count each step they take and find out who ends up with the highest grand total. Head to a nearby park, school field, city hall, or multi-level shopping center to find more stairs if you don’t have a lot at home.

Day 26: Nostalgic games

Teach kids a favorite sport or outdoor game from your youth—whether it’s jump roping, four square, or tee ball. It’ll make for great exercise and family bonding time as you recall stories from your childhood.

Day 27: Dance out feelings

Put on music and call out different emotions for kids to express using their bodies. You can follow along with this group activity or watch this Alvin Ailey appearance for inspiration.

Day 28: Snowball fun

Whether you have snow or not, you can stage a snowball “fight.” Just set some ground rules first, such as no aiming for each other’s heads or having a code word when someone needs a break. For an arena without snow, use yarn pom poms, squishy balls, stuffed animals, or crumpled up tissue paper or paper towels.

Day 29: Chalk maze

Use chalk outside, or tape inside, to create a walking maze, so kids can use their spatial reasoning and problem solving abilities while balancing and moving their bodies too.

Day 30: Twister

You don’t need the official Twister mat to play this classic party game. Set up your own version with a grid of tape or the existing patterns on a carpet or bedding, or using chalk on the driveway. Make cards for the caller to draw instead of a spinner, or let them improvise.

Day 31: Disco party

You’ve probably already tried a family dance party, but have you tried one in a dark(ish) room with disco lights? If you don’t have flashing or moving lights, you can play a background video for visual effect.

If you enjoyed this, check out our other 30-Day Challenges for families!

And don’t forget to get your free printables for each of these fun and connection-building challenges!

Joanna Eng is a staff writer and digital content specialist at ParentsTogether. She lives with her wife and two kids in New York, where she loves to hike, try new foods, and check out way too many books from the library.