PRIME TIME WITH KIDS: Grandparents and grandkids: Keeping fit together

Donna Erickson

Isabel McNulty, 12, works out with her 75-year-old grandmother, Paula Larsen, and swimmer Nicole Winters, at their hydro-fit class.

Scoot and run. Scoot and run.

The energetic 6-year-old balancing on her scooter set the pace for her grandmother running alongside — or maybe it was the other way around. They passed me when I stopped to let our family dog, Cali, do some sniffing on the wild grassy shoreline of our city lake.

Resuming my run, I caught up behind the duo and eavesdropped on their breathless chatter that sounded like a clever made-up game of “Scoot and Run ABC’s.”

Airplanes and Anglers — someone caught a fish!

Bikers in bright colors.

Coffee sipping gossipers.

Dawdlers and Dog walkers. “On your left!”

Elms turning colors, but where is an F?

(I restrained myself from shouting “Fountain” when I stopped for a water break as they carried on.)

Scoot and run.

A healthy grandparent-grandchild workout made memories and connections through movement, an alphabet game and conversation.

Mary Clapp, fitness coach for 20 years and mom of two, says it’s important to set aside designated times to exercise with kids. But doing it takes discipline, so put the workout schedule on the calendar and stick to it.

“As kids grow, you’ll find that if you make workout time together a priority (with a dose of fun), you’ll continue to share similar interests around physical activity that can last a lifetime,” she says.

Like 75-year-old Paula Larsen, who attends Mary’s hydro-fit classes. When 12-year-old granddaughter Isabel, an active swimmer on a community team, visited the class, they enjoyed every splash. “Through the treading water, intervals and bright smiles, they were building a bond and respect for one another,” says Mary.

“Wow!” exclaimed Isabel after a challenging core-strengthening routine, “that was a hard one — you are really strong, Grandma!”

“Exercising together, whether it’s dog walking, jumping on bikes or taking laps in a pool, it’s part education, part fun and part family-oriented — how can you go wrong?” says Mary.

If you’re a physically active grandparent, be a role model. Put on your sneakers, grab a grandkid, and get moving … together.

Note: Grandparents Day, Sept. 10, was created to appreciate the millions of much-loved grandparents. Give them a hug and an extra thank you to express what a difference they make in kids’ lives.


Donna Erickson’s award-winning series “Donna’s Day” is airing on public television nationwide. To find more of her creative family recipes and activities, visit and link to the NEW Donna’s Day Facebook fan page. Her latest book is “Donna Erickson’s Fabulous Funstuff for Families.”

© 2017 Donna Erickson

Distributed by King Features Syndicate


–PRIME TIME WITH KIDS: Grandparents and grandkids: Keeping fit together–