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One of the ironies of the Summer Olympics is that so many sports fans show their support for US athletes by gluing themselves to the TV and turning into couch potatoes for the duration of the games. Sure, getting together with friends and neighbors to watch the Olympics is great, but you can bring the fun and fitness to a higher level by hosting your own backyard Olympic games as well.
"Let's support Team USA not just by cheering them on at home, but by striving to live up to the examples they set," the first lady said last week in a video message. "Let's encourage our children to get active just like their Olympic heroes." Keep reading for the rest of the story.
Nearly 200 communities have signed on for Saturday's worldwide Let's Move meetup, which coincides with the first day of Olympic competition in London. If you can't coordinate with other local families to cheer on America's athletes, though, you can still join the fun at home. Here are 10 events to consider for your own backyard Olympics:
1. Gymnastics. Instead of trying to wobble your way across a high balance beam, lay a long ribbon of cloth out on the grass and challenge your fellow backyard athletes to dance, leap, spin, and twirl their way along it without falling off.
2. Relay races. Combine several track-and-field events into a single relay race for kids and adults to compete in together. Do a classic baton hand-off, or make it a bit more challenging by adding in leap-frog, jogging backward, and jumping jacks.
3. Water balloon shot-put. Fill small water balloons and see who can heave them the farthest. Or draw a target (in chalk) on the driveway, and find out who can hit the bull's-eye most often.
4. Tug of war. Good, old-fashioned tug of war was an event at the original Olympic games centuries ago and remained an official Olympic sport until 1920. Designate teams and see which one is the strongest, or hold this event in the pool to keep cool at the same time.
5. Jump rope. Think of it as running with built-in hurdles. Set a timer and go for endurance, or see who can reach 100 jumps the fastest.
6. Hula hoop. Set up several hoops and see who can step through them the fastest, or require competitors to pick up each one, whirl them around for a set amount of time, and then move on to the next event.
7. Soccer. You may not have enough room for a full-on game, but players can try to see who can bounce the ball on one knee the longest.
8. Marco Polo. The kids may not be ready for water polo, but Marco Polo? Game on. Change the rules so that people have to keep treading water to increase the workout.
9. Synchronized anything. Bouncing basketballs at the same time? Synchronized interpretive dance routines? Synchronized handstands or push-ups? The possibilities are endless.
10. Cycling. If your entire neighborhood is up for it, then head to a local park or school and turn the pavement into your own cycling course.
What other events would be fun for a neighborhood Olympics?
— Lylah M. Alphonse
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