Although so many of us understand the importance of fitness for our family, more often than not, it can be trying to say the least to encourage your family members to exercise as often as we’d like. There is a whole host of concern regarding the growth of obesity combined with the temptation of games consoles and fizzy drinks, keeping the younger members of your family fit and active is a struggle, but something that I genuinely believe should be persevered with and promoted rather than avoided at all costs. Whilst sports and activities such as jogging or football may not appeal to you or your loved ones, they certainly never have to me; there are plenty of alternative methods of keeping active that can be enjoyed by the whole family, here are just a few.
Yoga may seem like a hobby usually associated with yummy-mummies, it is certainly a work out method becoming more and more popular with a wider audience. Don’t be fooled though, this exercise is definitely more strenuous than you’d think and really helps to tone and define the body, improve flexibility whilst helping to clear the mind too. It’s one of those thing that the whole family can join in to a variety of levels – from baby yoga (which starts when you baby is crawling and is all about getting them to use muscles that they might not otherwise use often) to Madonna-style extreme muscle toning for adults who have been doing yoga for years.Yoga is fun, easy to get into and the best thing is that the classes run for children and babies won’t even feel like exercise classes so your little ones will be keeping active without knowing it!
For the adrenaline junkies among you, climbing can provide you with a real thrill and is something the whole family can enjoy. There are many climbing walls housed in former industrial buildings and reclaimed warehouses up and down the country, meaning you’re not restricted by the adverse weather conditions we so often encounter in the UK. Although challenging, climbing can help to improve inner and outer strength and after a few sessions, you’re certain to see a positive change in yourself. As you know, we go to Center Parcs villages at least twice a year and this is one of the activities that is super popular amongst boys age 6+, one of the highest affected age ranges for obesity. You don’t just have to do walk climbing either, when I was a little girl my Dad would take me out to the moors near his home and we would spend whole days walking his dogs and climbing. Nothing too extreme because I was no older than 8/9 years old but just climbing amongst the rocks and taking routes – its something my parents did for years and, living with close proximity to the lake district and in Yorkshire, we are blessed with some of the most wonderful mapped out walking routes that combine outdoor ‘climbing’.
It may remind you of bad 90’s music videos or being dragged down the street by your childhood friends, but roller skating is an extremely fun way to get back into shape, and is guaranteed to get your little ones moving. I have some wonderful memories of my mum (who was 40 years old when I was born!) skating around the kitchen with me in tow, singing into sweeping brushes ‘Do you love me’ by The Contours. Little did I know (and the post man who was greeted by this scene) that this was a full blown work out for both of us – all I remember is my awesome mum playing with me and making me smile. Investing in protective gear is a must if you want to avoid those inevitable bruises and grazes, but roller skating is a superb strengthening exercise and great for building up muscle strength.
You might remember me mentioning that I am a Water Babies advocate and that my children have been swimming since they were mere weeks old. Swimming is something that children see as extremely fun, even teenagers love to get into the pool and have a splash, but what most kids (and adults) don’t realise is that swimming challenges your muscles in ways that very few other things can do. For a baby the action of kicking their legs is a fabulous work out, for a toddler who is swimming on a woggle they are building up their core muscles by balancing and coordinating their arms and legs. For adults and teens swimming lengths can therapeutic and combines cardio and muscle workouts.
Cycling is a fantastic alternative to jogging as it is much easier on your joints, and no matter whether you live in the countryside or are limited to using the city cycle paths, it’s an easy way to include the whole family in your exercise regime. You might have seen my post about our recent trip to Center Parcs for Reuben’s birthday (you can catch it here if you missed it) when he got his first bike. He was so excited and was immediately on it, he’s even tried to bike it around our living room a few times, which had the cats running for the hills! Reuben having his first bike has made my husband and I determined that we are going to get a couple of bikes (he literally doesn’t have one, and mine is a rust bucket!) and take some lovely long bike rides, complete with picnics (cycling not only clears the mind, but it burns plenty of calories too, so it’s important to ensure your family have a balanced diet to provide them with enough energy to do so) over the coming Spring/Summer months. It’s also important to invest in reliable equipment to do so, and companies such as Fat Birds Don’t Fly stock a wide range of cycles and equipment that can make exercising on two wheels a much safer activity.
I hope this encourages you to get out and get active this Spring/Summer – I know it can be hard to inspire children (not to mention yourself) to get involved in family fitness but the simplest and most fun activities can be full blown workouts that you never knew you were having!
Get active and enjoy!