Health

Fun and fabulous fitness ideas for the whole family

Being more active is at the top of many New Year’s resolutions. We have put together some great ideas to build fitness into family life and make it less of a chore and more fun.

Small changes: big impact

Small changes make a big difference. There are loads of ways you can build a little more activity into your everyday family life, which can really add up, almost without anyone noticing. Here are just a few ideas to help the whole family move more:

  • If you drive to school, park a little way from the gates and walk the last bit.
  • Always get off the bus one or two stops earlier and walk the final stretch
  • Always take the stairs. Challenge the kids to run up them (you could even have the Rocky theme on your phone to spur them on!)
  • Whether at the supermarket or library, park as far away from the front door as possible. Every little extra walk will add up.
  • Turn walks into fun activity challenges. Even on a walk to the shops or park give the kids challenges along the way. They might have to run round a tree, hop to the next lamppost or jump on every manhole cover.
  • Dance while you cook, clean while you’re on the phone. Build little exercises into the everyday and you almost don’t realise you’re doing them.

Everybody’s walking the dog

Dog owners are healthier and live longer than those without pooches. A recent survey revealed that people who own a dog walk for about 75 minutes a day, compared to non-owners who exercise for just 18 minutes. Don’t have a dog? Borrow one. Borrow My Doggy is a great website where you can find pooches in your local area who are looking for extra walkies. A family walk is always more fun with a four-legged friend.

Torchlight strolls before bed

The local neighbourhood seems more magical in the dark. Make a short moonlight stroll part of your daily routine. After tea and homework, wrap everyone up warm and head out with torches (or glow sticks) for a short walk. Look out for the moon, the stars, twinkling lights in windows and any animals you might see out prowling. Children can also use their torches to spot minibeasts in tree stumps and hedgerows along the way. It’s another chance to spend some time together, get outside, and get some exercise all at the same time.

Ad break workouts

Make it a family rule that if you’re watching television you all have to do mini workouts in the ad breaks. It’s easier if you have a jar filled with activity ideas to pick from each time the adverts start. Get the whole family doing star jumps, jogging on the spot or doing burpees until your programme comes on again. An added bonus is that the sight of Mum or Dad leaping about the living room will have the kids in stitches.

10-minute shake ups

Fit short bursts of activity into your days. Change 4 Life have a series of fab and fun Disney-inspired 10 minute shake-up activities that kids will love. They’re great fun and a great way to easily build up to the minimum daily 60 minutes of physical exercise that all children should be getting.

Go-go gadgets

Screen time doesn’t have to be sedentary. You can play a number of active games on the Wii or with PlayStation Move that will get everyone up on their feet and having so much fun they don’t even realise they are exercising. For tweens and teens you could invest in family FitBits to track steps and exercise or download apps, such a fitness tracker, which give you short workouts to complete and which track how active you are. After all, nothing appeals more to a teen than beating parents at a challenge!

Weekend fun days

At the start of the year sit down as a family and write a big list of fun ways to spend time together as a family. You could pop all the suggestions into a jar to pull out and decide on each family activity. Vow to dedicate at least one half day each weekend to carry them out. Whether it’s a winter walk along the beach, a bike ride, a trip to a museum or a splash about in the pool – make sure each activity gets everyone moving.

So many of the ideas above not only help your whole family become more active but they all mean you will spend more time together too. It’s a win-win. So what are you waiting for? Ready … steady … GO!