Get your kids active through exercise
Ideas for exercising with your kids
It’s never been more important to get children active. The use of the internet and computer games, combined with increased car usage and parental concerns about allowing children out alone, has resulted in lower levels of activity in children – which could potentially set them up for health problems later in life. That's why kids need to get more active. Here are some top tips on getting your kids active through exercise.
However, it’s not all doom and gloom. There are plenty of activities that the whole family can get involved in which the kids will love (and parents too!). These will set a great example and contribute to keeping your children fit, active, and most importantly, healthy.
Get kids active through exercise 1: Make it fun
The most important thing to remember when choosing activities to do with your kids is to keep the activities fun, otherwise you’ll turn their interest levels down to a minimum. For example: children might turn down the suggestion of taking a scenic woodland walk but if you combine the walk with a list of things for them to search for, identify and collect, suddenly they’ll become more interested, and that boring old walk will take on a completely different focus for them. Similarly, children love any sort of game, so an easy way to get them active is to make a game out of a particular healthy activity, plus they won’t even realize that they’re exercising!
Get kids active through exercise 2: How to use this guide
To help you choose suitable activities for your children’s ages, each activity is categorized into one of three children’s age groups:
- Activities for younger children
- Activities for older children
- Activities for younger and older children
Simply browse through the ideas below and select ones that are best suited to your children’s ages.
Get kids active through exercise 3: Activities for younger children
- Park life. Whether it’s simply going on the swings and slides, or going for a walk followed by having an ice lolly, young children love the park – especially as it has many places to explore and gives them the opportunity to let off steam during family chasing games and games such as hide and seek. It’s also free – which makes it an even more attractive option!
- Treasure hunt / Easter egg hunt. Obviously an Easter egg hunt has a very limited season, but you can easily extend the concept by having a treasure hunt at any time of the year. Simply make up teams by pairing one parent with each child – and then get hunting! With all the excitement of searching for clues and trying to win a prize, everyone will forget that they’re exercising!
- Activity trip. Family days out such as visiting the zoo or a similar attraction usually involve an entire day walking around. Walking is one of the best forms of exercise, and is a beneficial cardiovascular activity for children and adults alike. So, a Saturday family day out can also be a Saturday family workout!
Get kids active through exercise 5: Activities for older children
- Fun run. A fun run is a non-competitive opportunity for the family to exercise together and usually comes with a medal at the end. Children love medals and rewards, which will be a great incentive for them to participate. Make sure that you all run at the pace of the slowest family member so that everyone feels part of the fun, rather than one person being left behind and struggling to the finish. You can even extend the fun run experience by planning some family training before the event! Age limits usually apply though so, unless the run is very short, this one is best for older children.
- High wire fun. Various forest-based climbing and zip wire activities are springing up and make for two or three hours of safe, exhilarating activity. The courses involve climbing and walking, and often include a few hair-raising descents so all the family can enjoy a fun-packed afternoon combined with exercise. Minimum height restrictions apply, so this activity is only suitable for older children.
- Sports matches. Once children move up to junior school, there are usually many in- and out-of-school sports clubs that run matches and tournaments each weekend. Whether it’s athletics, martial arts or tennis, there’s certain to be something to interest your children – and although parents won’t actually be involved in the matches themselves, club organisers are always on the lookout for helpers to marshal, coach, umpire and generally help out, so there are plenty of opportunities for the entire family to be involved.
- Physical challenges. Longer distance cycling challenges, overnight trail walks, team races and even trekking holidays abroad are ideal for getting teenagers involved in something active. These activities are only suitable for older and more independent children, because they’ll have to train up for their chosen event – which also means there will be further opportunities for family training and exercise beyond the challenge itself.
Get kids active through exercise 6: Activities for younger and older children
- On your bike. Cycling is a fantastic, fun-filled activity, and the beauty of cycling is that it is adaptable to every age. If your children are very young, they can either sit in a special trailer or be strapped into seats on the adults’ bikes. Slightly older children can ride on their own bikes that can be fixed to their parents’ via a special bracket, while even older children can simply join in on their own machines.
- Walking. The simplest of all exercise activities, but no less valuable because of this, walking anywhere is good exercise and can be pitched at every level. Even the youngest family members can toddle a short way, plus walking with a toddler will probably provide the parents with an extra workout when the child has to be carried the remainder of the journey home!
- Tobogganing. When it is possible this is great fun and is great exercise when you climb back up the slope. It’s also an activity that the children won’t easily tire of!
- Swimming. Even just playing in a pool is ideal for a family workout, and you’ll find that the kids will be happy to jump in and out all day and will never want to leave! For adults, swimming is an excellent non-impact form of exercise, which virtually everyone can participate in at their own level.
- Orienteering. Combining map reading skills with cardiovascular activity, orienteering is a sport that has completely embraced the family. Events offer challenging routes for adults and older children, as well as easier ‘string’ courses that younger children can navigate around, with or without parental assistance.
Get kids active through exercise 7: Ask the family for activity suggestions
With a little thought and planning, there are plenty of opportunities to get the kids active through exercise, with the additional benefit of some quality family time together as well, which in our modern, hectic world is in increasingly short supply. So, next weekend, why not get active with your kids by doing one or more of the activity suggestions? Just ask your family what they would like to do!