Get Fit And Have Fun As A Family Too

It doesn’t have to cost a penny, yet being active with your children gives you time with them and is a great way to get fit too, says Change4Life.

There’s no doubt that being active makes us feel great. But the temptations of TV and video games can make it difficult to get up from that sofa. Modern life is just too comfortable.

Yet every day our kids need at least 60 minutes of energetic activity, such as running, climbing, skipping or dancing, to make their hearts beat faster than usual. This sort of movement gives their lungs and muscles a workout as well as burning calories and strengthening bones. Keeping fit also decreases kids’ chances of contracting life-threatening diseases which can be caused by excess levels of fat in the body, such as cancer, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Another benefit of a good dose of activity is that it aids sleep, so tiring the children out in this way every day will help them nod off at a good hour and feel alert for the next day.

Keeping fit is not just good for the kids, though. As parents, energetic activity gives you the same health benefits as your children, but doing it as a family means you will also have fun while creating lasting memories, and receiving a mood boost too. Plus it’ll be easier to get your kids involved if they see you enjoying getting fit. Activities that you can do together as a family won’t seem like hard work. The key is to choose interests that everyone can take part in. Start by playing tag in the park, having running races in the garden, making a den or dancing to TV ads. Below we've got some more ideas for the whole family to try.

Football

  • How it boosts fitness
    The mix of jogging and breaking into sprints means that football is a good fat-burner, while also strengthening muscles and bones, and working heart and lungs.
  • Why it’s fun for the whole family
    Most people know how to play football, plus your friends can join in too.
  • Where you can do it
    As long as you have some markers for goal posts, you can turn any park or garden into Wembley stadium. Visit www.youth-football.co.uk for information about teams in your area.

Swimming

  • How it boosts fitness
    Swimming is a great all-over workout. It exercises heart and lungs, and builds strength and endurance.
  • Why it’s fun for the whole family
    Almost everyone likes splashing about in the water. You can also try games, like diving to the bottom, races and piggy in the middle.
  • Where you can do it
    Check with your local council to find your nearest swimming pool.

Tennis

  • How it boosts fitness
    Running around a tennis court is a great work-out for heart and lungs, plus it also enhances bone strength and hand-eye coordination.
  • Why it’s fun for the whole family
    Beating dad will be so much fun that no-one will notice all the work their bodies are doing.
  • Where you can do it
    Lots of local councils have tennis courts. Check your council website for your local courts. To find out if your local courts don’t charge for you to play, visit www.tennisforfree.com.

Cycling

  • How it boosts fitness
    It helps develop healthy joints and bones, encourages weight loss, and tones your legs and bottom.
  • Why it’s fun for the whole family
    Cycling is one of the easiest ways to fit activity into your daily routine as you can bike to school or work, and also have a family cycling adventure at the weekend. Plus every family member can have a go as even the smallest can sit on a bike seat or in a trailer.
  • Where you can do it
    With a bit of planning, it’s often possible to find routes that avoid busy roads. Visit www.sustrans.org.uk for help.

Dancing

  • How it boosts fitness
    Dancing works the heart and lungs, strengthens bones, boosts co-ordination and increases flexibility.
  • Why it’s fun for the whole family
    Anyone can move – all you need is a tune.
  • Where you can do it
    Anywhere you like – even in the kitchen – and whenever you feel like it.

     

Are your kids a bit reluctant to get moving?
Try these ideas for active games to inspire even the most sofa-bound children.

  • Blob tag
    Two players link arms or hold hands to form the blob – they mustn’t break the link. The blob grows by tagging more kids who link arms to make a chain. Only the kids on either end of the group can tag someone, so other players can run through them without being caught. If you have lots of children playing, break up the blob into several smaller groups for extra fun.
  • Vegetable tag
    Just like normal tag, one person is ‘it’ and chases the rest of the players until they touch, or tag someone, who then takes over. The difference here is that players can avoid being tagged if they crouch down and shout the name of a vegetable as the tagger approaches.
     
  • Wiggly worms
    This is a good one for a rainy day. Kids lie on the floor on their tummies with hands by their sides and see how far they can wiggle around their home.
     
  • Dodgeball
    You will need two teams of about six players each side. You’ll also need a referee and six large, soft balls. Each team starts with three balls which are thrown at players of the opposing team. If players’ bodies are hit, they’re out. Avoid hits to the head to keep your kids safe. If a player catches a ball thrown by the other team, the thrower is out. The winning team is the one with the last child left in.
     

Change4Life aims to help people eat more healthily and be more active. For more great tips and ideas, visit www.nhs.uk/Change4life.


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