Nothing says summer quite like sunshine, swimsuits and a little splishing and splashing at the neighborhood pool. But if you think that time at the pool with your family is all about relaxing, think again! You can get such good exercise playing in the water with your kids, you just have to bypass the lounge chair and hop in. Here are some fun ideas that will bring out the kid in you, with the added bonus of a major calorie burn!
1. Marco Polo. The old classic pool game. Whoever is “it” shuts his eyes and has to tag someone while the other players try to evade. The only hint as to their location is their “Polo” to your “Marco”—and their noisy splashing, of course! This activity keeps you swimming, treading water and making quick moves to escape the tagger. It’s a full-body workout that will wear everyone out!
2. Diving for sticks. Dive for sunken treasure at the bottom of the pool. Dive toys and sticks give you a purpose for going deep and let you channel your inner porpoise. You can even have a competition as to who can gather the most toys in a single dive.
3. Diving board. Embrace your inner exhibitionist and show off on the diving board. Whether it’s a low or high diving board, have a dive contest to celebrate your inner Olympic diver, or see who can strike the funniest pose. The swim back to the side of the pool and the climb up if it’s a high dive are just bonus workouts!
4. Volleyball. It doesn’t even have to be real water volleyball. Add any ball to a pool—beach balls work wonderfully—and have fun batting it around. Frisbees work too!
5. Compete. Go for serious speed with a race around the pool or see who can swim the farthest underwater.
6. Chicken. What’s a day at the pool without a game of chicken? In teams of two, the competitors sit on their partner’s shoulders and try to push, shove and yank the other person off. Best out of three!
7. Flip and flop. While you’re embracing your inner Olympian, pretend you’re a gymnast. Do handstands in the shallow end or practice your back flip in the water. It may be the only time you can do it safely!
8. Snorkel. You don’t need a great barrier reef to get your snorkel on. Throw on a mask and enjoy a leisurely snorkel. It’s all the more fun if there is a dive contest going on at the same time!
9. What did I say? Okay, so it’s not such an active pursuit, but there’s room for some giggles in a day at the pool. Both you and a partner go under water at the same time, taking turns saying (yelling, really) something for the other person to guess. Goggles—and short phrases—are key to this one!
10. Through the legs. Take turns swimming through another person’s legs in the shallow end. For an added challenge, make a rule that you can’t touch the other person.
11. Just zoom. If your kids aren’t yet of swimming age, you’re not out of luck. Catch them as they jump off the side of the pool and water walk while zipping them through the water. Plus, it’s a good way for kids to get comfortable in the water with an adult at their side.
Some of the ideas sound silly, but as a kid I spent hours pretending I was the whale in Free Willy at the pool. (It was the 90s!) You’re really only limited by your imagination, and being in the water is much more fun than sitting on the sidelines! Just make sure you’re always being safe and wear that sunscreen.
What games are essential to your pool fun? Do you have any other tips for ways to stay active while playing with the little ones?