Let’s face it, we can’t hide the fact that childhood obesity is a major problem at the moment. With all the endless technology; video games, tablets, mobile phones and hours of television access, some kids are barely getting their much needed minimum of an hour’s daily activity each day! Between school runs, long working hours, cleaning, cooking and endless washing… neither are the parents!
So, I have decided to throw together some simple and realistic ideas of how to get the whole family active. The kids can get moving, raise their pulse and ensure they maintain healthy hearts and weight whilst having FUN! Exercise for health does not HAVE to be structured… lifting weights, timed sprints, gym sessions or a structured class, they are all great, but simply getting the body moving in any way you can, on a regular basis, whilst having fun can be highly beneficial and easier than you think.
Get your dancing shoes on
Getting your wiggle on to the latest hits with the kids will not only shoot your heart rate through the roof and get those muscles working, but it will definitely put a smile on all your faces at the same time. I love watching my 5 and 8-year-old daughters throwing out new shapes. Switch on a cheap disco ball and turn off the lights and you have your very own disco!
Play chase at the park
Fresh air, outdoors, running, dodging, ducking and diving. A game of ‘tag’ will definitely get you sweating, boost those ‘feel good’ hormones and truly wear the kids out for some peace and quiet later.
Go for a post tea walk
After tea, throw on your trainers and go pound the pavements for a short walk. The kids could even ride their bikes/scooters alongside. It will aid digestion and tire them out ready for bath and bed once they get home. You might actually avoid the whole “creeping back down to the lounge 10x claiming dehydration” saga if you do this.
Yes, I’m not going to lie… the getting in and out is not the greatest! You face struggling with your wet cossie getting stuck over your head and chasing your overexcited child around the changing rooms in nothing but your birthday suit.
Then there’s trying to get a slippery eel out of their Peppa Pig cossie, whilst simultaneously trying to preserve your modesty with a too-small bath towel and trying to divert your eyes away from the naked 90-year-old woman in the corner. (Why do they always choose to bend over to put their socks on first?!)
But… the feeling of complete freedom in the water, seeing your child’s confidence grow with each visit, the excited squeals and the feeling of tiny hands gripping your shoulders as you lower them into the water, definitely makes up for the changing room dramas.
Take the stairs wherever possible
Whenever possible, take your children on the stairs – why wait in a long line for the lifts if you are all capable of using the stairs? Practice counting at the same time as you take each step and kill two birds with one stone.
Walk or run for charity
There are lots of short-distance fun-runs and charity events for kids now. These are a perfect opportunity to teach them the importance of setting and accomplishing a goal whilst raising money for worthy causes. Over the years I have taken part in some amazing events with my kids – the Color Run and 5k fun runs for example. This September, I am surprising them both with a trip to Paris to take part in a kid’s 5k run through Disneyland!
Go to a Park Run
Talking of fun runs…the Park Run events are a great opportunity to get you and your kids active. Park Run hosts free weekly 5k runs, so if you have an energetic child, take them along for a bonding activity session.
Bringing back the skipping rope
You barely see a child skipping around the streets anymore…. but I remember loving to line up next to two kids flinging a giant rope around whilst we would all dart in and out, avoiding it swiping us off our feet. Get yourself an old- fashioned style jump rope and practise in the garden with the kids. Use it for skipping games or play tug of war. Just make sure you have a strong pelvic floor before attempting this one!
Your very own sports day
You can get a ton of cheap kids play equipment off eBay. Hula hoops, mini hurdles, cones, bean bags…set up your own activity circuit and get your competition on!
Play a ball game
Play a ball game at the local park with the kids…tennis, football, netball, rugby, dodgeball…the list really is endless. I just hope your family isn’t as competitive as mine – we have some sore losers over here!
Get on your bikes and hit a scenic route, packing a picnic in the summer or hot choc for the colder days. You could even plan a route which conveniently places you outside a nice country pub at the end.
Trampolining parks and giant inflatables are all the rage right now. Get your bounce on with the little ones and release your inner child (just don’t release your bladder!)
So, there you have a few ideas on how to get the whole family up and off the sofa, away from the tablets and moving their legs as they were intended to. We only have one body and one life…. don’t take your body’s freedom for granted. Use it in every way possible whilst you can….and teach your kids to do the same.