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For a few years now I've been going to the gym three or four times a week, but since I've become a father if had to cut back my visits to the gym.

Since this cutback already shows on the scale, I wonder which sporting activities in general can be done with the whole family and also are age appropriate, i.e. what can be done with a 3/6/12/16 year old?

Some activities might be harmful or impossible before a certain age and some activities might get boring.

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7 Answers 7

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Cycling is a sport the whole family can do together. It grows with the family too. Initially, younger ones can be attached to an adult bike in a seat or with a bike pup. Later they become independent.

Soccer is another sport everyone can play with minimal equipment.

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+1 for cycling, especially if it includes a stop in the middle of the cycle for a pub lunch! –  tenpn Mar 31 '11 at 12:08

Sailing fits the bill, once your children are all water confident. There are a range of boats available to allow a large family like yours to divide into many different "teams", with each person always having something to do without just being a passenger.

Matt

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I am a Taekwondo assistant instructor and have taught families who take classes together. I love it when parents take classes with their children because they can help their children to practice at home, they can help keep their kids in line in class, and because martial arts promote greater respect within the family. It's easier to teach that respect to a child when the parent is involved in the martial arts respectful mode of thinking.

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From about age 4 and up, my top recommendation is martial arts study. In addition to being a great work-out, it teaches a useful skill and instills confidence, a sense of responsibility, and many other great traits.

From birth up, swimming is another great, active way to spend time together. There's something to do in the pool at any age, and it's a great work-out for all.

If you can afford a decent GPS, geocaching is a great outdoor game for the whole family. My son was four when we started, and now at eight he loves hiking and wants to start doing some longer backpacking trips.

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+1 for great variety: indoors, outdoors, solo and group! –  nGinius Apr 2 '11 at 3:22
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Geocaching: there are apps available for almost every smartphone too. –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Apr 28 '11 at 5:44
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+1 for the Martial Arts, I started my son a year ago and while he is ok with it I know it will take some time with him. When we see older kids and the teens do some exhibitions he is excited about it and I just tell him if he practices he'll be able to do that sometime. –  MichaelF May 11 '11 at 13:16
    
These are all GREAT activities. Although martial arts isn't one I would have thought of as a "family activity," I suppose you can even practice forms together and attending tournaments is a lot of fun. It certainly has been a wonderful experience for my daughter individually too. –  balanced mama Nov 16 '12 at 14:03

Jogging with a jogging stroller is appropriate from about 6 months on up. Our 9 month old loves to just get out of the house and see the sites go by, and his stroller has a see-through plastic "bubble" that can roll out if it's going to be chilly with the wind on him, since he's not actually working as hard as mom or dad.

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Bocce or bowls, similar sports whose popularity depend on where you live, are pretty intuitive even for children. This may not be a good idea if you're trying to use this to replace your scheduled exercise routine, though!

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There are TONS of yard games like croquet, badmitton, holey boards and others similar to Bocce that are a lot of fun too. –  balanced mama Nov 16 '12 at 14:04

Any team sports suits you. I'd suggest soccer or volleyball though. They don't require any special equipment, and they are don't require to be especially physically fit.

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These can be pretty tough to "play" together when you have especially young children, but sure are fun at family events when there is something else for the littlest ones to do when everyone takes turns either playing or watching the little ones. I don't know what you mean they don't require you to be especially fit though. I suppose it depends on the skills of the best players in the group. –  balanced mama Nov 16 '12 at 14:06

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