Words by: Sophie Tweedale
Helping the whole family get active doesn’t have to be an uphill struggle with our DIY fitness guide
Getting fit. It’s a phrase that strikes fear into the hearts of even the most Lycra-loving of parents. You know the delusion, the one where you don activewear on a Monday morning, convinced this is the week you’ll lose a stone, hone (or just find) your deltoids and live your best ever workout life.
But faster than you can say ‘book me onto Body-Yo NOW’, work, kids and the whole chaotic caboodle that is life always seems to sabotage those good intentions.
The solution, however, lies much closer to home than you might realise. Getting the whole family fit and active with you is the way forward and there are a huge range of clever ways to get ‘family fit’ in 2018.
Research shows that phsyical activity takes the biggest hit when we become new parents. Yet parents who are active and lead by example increase the likelihood that their kids will enjoy staying fit in later life.
The benefits are well documented. Not only does exercising as a family instil healthy habits into everyone’s weekly schedule, meaning it’s less likely to get shunted off the diary, the bond-creating value of a pulse-racing, heart pumping family activity can not be underestimated.
Sports psychologist Amanda Hills believes if children enjoy exercise when they are young, it sets them up for life. She says: “Children often end up associating exercise with PE classes, which they might not enjoy, so they need to be given the chance to find a form of exercise they love.
“Working out together can also transform a family dynamic,” she adds, pointing out how exercising together can strengthen family closeness and teaches children ‘useful lessons’ about working together as a team.
The rule of thumb is you don’t have to sign up for the latest expensive gym classes to find an activity that will appeal to the whole family. Instead, there are lots of simple and easy-to-apply ways to bond whilst burning some calories.
Research from David Lloyd Clubs reveals that a whooping 71 per cent of parents think their family doesn’t get enough exercise. Two-thirds of adults and one-third of all 11-year-olds in the UK are overweight, greatly increasingly the risk of heart attacks, cancer, diabetes and other illnesses in later life.
The NHS is now implementing a myriad of family exercise intiatives, underlining the nationwide need to get out there more together, from free bikes and outdoor gyms to cinema tickets free to families who walk more than 12,500 steps three times a week. Families in Oxfordshire are even being offered the chance to win Fitbits for completing exercise challenges.
You can ‘design-out’ bad family habits and a lack of activity with just a few easily incoporated life hacks. Get the whole family healthy this year with these inspiring fitness ideas.
Get the family active with these 10 fabulous fitness hacks
Walk or run for charity
Sign up for a family Park Run and make it a tradition. OK, so you‘ll be lapped by Lycra Mum multiple times, but you can make a diversion to the swings ‘for the kids’ when you can no longer breathe.
Go for pre or post-dinner walks with the dog. Get the kids to plot a route and give them 10 items to find. Remember, Google Maps is your friend – unless you want to geocache two counties to get home.
Get them raking leaves, pulling weeds and err, generally doing the chores. What a Spotify playlist can get them to do is an actual miracle. Go crazy and hold a parents vs kids race with everyone awarded PBs for folding and vacuuming the fastest.
Bike ‘n’ Drive
Walk, bike or scoot to school together each day. Or drive part-way there, get out and walk the rest together. Massive school-gate PA points available here.
Weekly Sports Night
Designate a fun weekly ‘family sports night’. Take it in turns to choose something. Be prepared to sacrifice all dignity as you wobble your way around a packed inline skating rink. Air hockey next week will suddenly sound so appealing.
Turn screen time into sport time – put on games, such as bowling or tennis, and play them together, or even do Dance Party. FYI, there are some moves that should never leave the 1990s.
Find a local ‘pick your own’ farm and come back with a fully exercised family and punnets of fruit and veg. Smashing that #sustainable hashtag on Instagram right there.
Buy a trampoline
Self-contained, bouncy, cardio-tastic fun for the whole family. Just never at the same time unless you own body armour.
The National Parks website (nationalparks.gov.uk) has lists galore of great family walks and fun days. And if all else fails …
You’ll be wondering why you never thought of this before until you’re picking them out of your potted cacti for weeks.