There are so many great benefits to being an active family, but it can still be a challenge to get everyone up and moving. Children are surrounded by temptations of TV, videogames, junk food and parental fears of letting them loose on the streets. And adults are often too rushed to make time for extra activities.
The key is to want to be active. You won’t get your children moving if you start talking about long country walks. Choose exciting activities or ask your kids what they would like to do. Here are some great ideas to get you started.
· Geocaching. Known as a worldwide treasure hunt, this high-tech style of orienteering will have your kids running ahead and you panting to keep up. The concept is simple: you retrieve the coordinates from the internet and then use a GPS device (can be on a smartphone) to navigate to the geocache or ‘treasure’. This is usually an item which has been put in a box by someone else, plus a logbook to sign. Track your findings online and then find another cache to find. The great thing is that geocaches are often in very normal places, perhaps even on the school run route, and located all around the world. Children and adults love this exciting hunt. It’s a fantastic way to spend a weekend afternoon.
· Wheely fun stuff. Everyone loves a family bike ride and even better if it’s to somewhere interesting. Use your pedal power to take you to a park, or head out on a national trail for a longer ride. It doesn’t have to just be bikes either. Skateboarding, scooting and roller-blading can be enjoyed by people of all ages, and you may discover that you are the one trying to keep up with your kids!
· Go Ball-istic. Sometimes the simplest activities are the best, and easiest, to do. A straightforward game of football, rounders, cricket or Frisbee is something for all ages and fitness levels. Plus all require using the important large leg muscles and get the heart beating faster.
· Family Olympics. Inspired by the summer of sport? Why not have your own Olympics afternoon in the garden or park! Spread out clothing and use it as hurdles; use a pedometer to mark out 100 metres and see who can get the closest to Usain Bolt’s time; use a foam rocket ball or beanbag and see who can throw it the furthest ; try the long-jump, and why not throw in a few childhood classics like the 3-legged race?
· Where’s your imagination? Kids respond really well to what they’re imagining. Tell a 5 year old they are a superhero who needs to run faster to save the world and before you can say Power Rangers - you have created a speed machine! Use the same imaginative process on yourself and you may be surprised at the results.
· Happy Hula. Using a hula hoop to keep fit is really catching on. Both adults and children’s sizes are available and cheap to buy, and it is more versatile than you might think. Who can keep it on their waist the longest? Failing that, try skipping, throwing it to a friend, or crawling through them.
· Melody makers. Dancing around the kitchen is great fun for all kids, young and grown-up ones. Put some on some loud music, close the curtains and boogie! You could even make your own special dance music playlist or hold a dancing competition.
· Food for thought. And finally, make sure you eat well. No-one is going to feel like being active if they haven’t got much energy. Eating healthily is the best way of ensuring your family has the get up and go – to go! So take some time to incorporate some nutrient-rich meals into your weekly menus. Planning ahead is key. Breakfast can be a busy time so be prepared and make it as easy as possible so you don’t always have to resort to sugary cereals. Weigh and soak porridge oats or make up a wholemeal pancake mixture the night before. Put all the fruit by the blender so you are ready to make a smoothie when you enter the kitchen bleary-eyed in the morning! Lunches can be as simple as a wholemeal tuna and cucumber roll with a piece of fruit and homemade muffin. Dinner is a good time to try and get some vegetables in. Try noodle stir-fries, pasta bakes and vegetable burgers. Eat as much natural colourful food as possible, aim for your 5 a day, and you won’t go far wrong.
There is no time like the present to get your family moving. Just try one new thing each week and see which ones are preferred. Most importantly, make it fun, then before you can say ‘move’ it will be the kids dragging you out of the door!
by Jessica Ward
by Kath Webb
by Jessica Ward
by Laura Briggs
by Jessica Ward