The weather is dropping to colder temperatures, rain is falling from the sky, and you and your kids are cooped up in the house with a bit of cabin fever! During the fall and winter months, we all know how easy it can be to get stuck in a routine where we are running from the weather instead of in it.
I know the idea of intentionally stepping out into the cold, wet, weather is a little wild, but I believe that within each of us is a kid that wants to get outside and play! As a parent, I did not want my family to hibernate for the winter and I didn't want us sidelining our fitness due to the changing of the seasons. I wanted to find an outdoor activity that was fun, that we could do rain or shine, and year round.
I still remember the day I created the game.
It was about six years ago, my kids were five and eleven, and they were sitting on their rumps, inside. I think we were all ready to burst with boredom when I said “get some warm clothes on, we're heading outside.” From there I shot from the hip and made up Power-Up Land; a game of running, earning power-ups, and working to complete the level! To my surprise the kids LOVED it. It became a favorite outdoor game to 'play' with me. The kicker was it was do-able for everyone, boosted my kids' health, and their sense of self!
Since creating Power-Up Land, I have shared it with a number of friends who have kids ages 4 to 15. The feedback is always, “the kids love it”! So, I thought I’d share this game with you too.
The goal is to run a course from start to finish. Parents map out the course to show their kids. A mile is a good distance.
Each family member chooses a character they want to be.
Each character starts with 10 Power-Ups in their bank. Power-Ups are energy bursts you can use any time during the game. If your character starts to lose energy and needs to rest you can stop. Each time you stop you are using a Power-Up. Power-Ups only last for 10 seconds, but that is just enough time to re-energize so you can continue running towards the finish line!
Every time you rest for 10 seconds, you deplete your Power-Up bank by one.
To win the game you must complete the course with at least 5 Power-Ups left. If your kids need to rest more than five times, that's okay, you can earn Power-Ups!
Earning Power-Ups (this is where everyone can get creative): Characters can earn Power-Ups for passing or touching certain ‘markers’ along the course. For example, in our neighborhood we have several freestanding basketball hoops along our route. Every time the kids run and bounce on the hoops’ base, they earn a Power-Up. Kids LOVE collecting Power-Ups! Other ideas to collect Power-Ups are touching a light-post, running by mailboxes, jumping over speed-bumps, etc.
You can make the game even more fun by using your imagination. For instance, when you have to cross the street pretend you're crossing an ocean or dodging pinecone sharks! You just want them to keep running and have fun!
Once everyone has crossed the finish line, check how excited your kids are. They’ll be thrilled to remind you how many Power-Ups they have earned and how little they used. They'll talk about ways to beat their score 'next time'.
Leveling Up: This means your kids are becoming more cardiovascularly fit and they are ready for a tougher course (e.g. longer distance, more hills, etc.). Measure their readiness to level up by the number of Power-Ups they use on the current course. In our house, if they use 2 Power-Ups or less, they're ready!
Go ahead, enjoy a breath of fresh fall air with your loved ones. Aim to get outside and exercise with your family at least one hour a week. You can start your family fitness today with Power-Up Land or, for more outdoor activity ideas, join other families and me in hubbub's Fall Family Fitness challenge. See you there!