Posted: Feb 01, 2013 12:00 AM
Be forewarned: these active and fun family-friendly games might call forth some deep and unexpected belly laughter.

By now, we all know how important exercise is for health and wellness. Good intentions seem to fly out the window, though, when workout routines grow monotonous over time or when children whine because they want to watch more television rather than go outside to play. But what people so often seem to forget is that just moving and playing with family and friends can be a phenomenal workout that doesn't require treadmills or elliptical machines. We've compiled a list of family games that are not only fun, but can double as a terrific way to burn a few extra calories.

  1. Obstacle courses

    Head down to your local park with a stop watch and create an obstacle course with available equipment and a few props from home. Family members can compete against each other or go through the obstacle course to try to earn a personal best.

    blue frisbee
  2. Ultimate Frisbee

    This game is best for older children on up to adults, since games can be competitive and require a fairly high level of athleticism. Ultimate Frisbee is like a cross between soccer, football, and Frisbee golf.

  3. Relay races

    You can set up your relay as a simple foot race, or try more creative ideas like skipping races, crab walk races, or bear crawl races, all of which are excellent exercises and hilarious to try as an adult.

  4. Trampoline dodge ball

    Since dodge ball is already considered dangerous by some, why not add a trampoline to really get the adrenaline pumping? Dodge ball on a backyard trampoline is probably a bad idea, but trampoline parks often have dodge ball nights. These trampolines have more safety features than backyard models.

  5. Tag

    Choose a player to be "it" and run around wildly. There are also several fun variations, like freeze tag, blob tag, or hide and go seek, all of which require running (or at least brisk walking).

    kids playing tag

  6. Racquetball

    Don't be fooled by the tininess of racquetball courts. You'll be bouncing around the court like a ping pong ball as you unsuccessfully attempt to catch the racquetball while laughing at your terrible coordination. We know from experience.

  7. Jump ropejump rope

    Fitness gurus have managed to suck all the life out of jumping rope by using it as an interval training technique. But with one simple jump rope, it's possible to easily spend an hour taking turns jumping with children while reciting rhymes from elementary school. You and the family will sweat profusely without even realizing it.

  8. Wall ball

    Take your kiddos outside and find a large wall. Players throw a ball against the wall and catch it prior to bouncing twice. If a player mishandles the ball in any way or if the ball doesn't hit the wall, the player must sprint to the wall and touch it before another player collects the ball and hits the wall with it. If he or she doesn't make it to the wall in time, that's one strike out of three until a champion remains.

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