Much as being active is key to my sanity, getting my entire family to exercise isn’t always easy. And as our kids get older, I know the thought of doing anything with Mom and Dad will seem less and less cool. [Cue flashback. Sorry, Mom.] But with the weather getting warmer, it’s time to get the entire gang out of the house and what better way to combine some family bonding with a bit of exercise than a family relay race? It’s simple: A relay race is a set of obstacles a team has to work through to reach the finish line. The team who completes the race in the shortest amount of time, wins.
Up for the challenge? Follow these five steps to create your own family relay race:
1. Pick a location.
The key to a successful relay race is space. If you live in a suburb like we do, you may need to look elsewhere for enough wiggle room. Everyone is also more likely to get into the race if they’re away from familiar distractions. Choose a local park or athletic field and be sure to check for any restrictions on activities. Bonus points for leaving the phones at home.
2. Plan the activities.
Once you’ve selected your location, it’s time to plot the course for the relay race. The basic framework is this: Set up multiple stations with activities spaced out by stretches of exertion.
Activities can be mental or physical. Some options include:
- Building something using cardboard or foam bricks
- Completing a puzzle or solving a riddle
- Transferring water between two buckets
- Old-school gym moves like sit ups, pushups or jumping jacks
- Successfully volleying a ball a set number of times
To get from activity to activity, try the following:
- Crab walking
- Walking lunges
Considering everyone’s ages and fitness levels will help you hit the right balance of fun and challenging. (We had some fun last summer putting together challenges to help you brainstorm!)
3. Grab some props.
Now that you’ve decided on your activities for the race, it’s time to go shopping. Local discount stores are a great source for cheap sporting equipment you won’t be heartbroken to only get a few uses out of. And by props, I also mean clothes. Depending on your children’s ages, they may not be down for matching t-shirts with your names splattered across the front (I can *feel* my daughter’s eyes rolling), but coordinating colors will do.
4. Organize teams.
Splitting up into pairs is the easiest way to organize teams for a relay race. This encourages your kids to work with their partner to succeed and provides someone to cheer them on. (Recruiting aunts, uncles and cousins adds to the fun.) Of course, a relay race doesn’t have to involve multiple teams. You can also complete it as a family unit, rooting for each other as you each work through the entire race as a circuit. The individual person with the best time, wins.
5. Decide on a prize.
Winner takes all, right? While I’ll never say no to a trophy or medal, here are some other ideas:
- Dinner at/from a favorite restaurant
- Choice of a movie to watch together
- Breakfast in bed prepared by the other team
- A break from household chores
- Choice of an activity for everyone (sporting event, concert, museum, etc.)
But don’t take it too seriously. I can get a bit like Ricky Bobby when it comes to competitions (“If you ain’t first, you’re last!”), but the goal is for everyone to walk away feeling proud of themselves no matter what.
Have you ever tried a family relay race? Share your tips in the comments below.