Some days, even with the best of intentions, family life means you won’t be able to fit in a trip to the gym. But physical activity doesn't have to be all or nothing. Taking part in fun activities that happen to include exercise can be a good way for families to exercise together, embrace a healthy lifestyle and try something new.
Check out these fitness ideas the whole family can enjoy:
1. Skipping spin class? Go on a family bike ride
Loading your child onto the back of your bike is a great way to get the heart pumping, and all the fresh air will help children sleep. But the benefits of a family bike ride are psychological too: studies show that exercising outdoors can inspire greater feelings of wellbeing than hitting the gym. In fact researchers have found that people feel more revitalised, energetic and positively engaged when they took their workout outside.
2. Instead of swimming laps, make a splash with kids at the pool
Ducking, diving and racing kids in the pool are great for cardio. Grab your child’s kickboard and work your lower body using just your legs to propel yourself. A splashing competition — kicking straight legs while holding the side of the pool — will also burn calories while working your core and lower body. Treading water is another way to raise your heart rate: try holding your arms above your head for an extra challenge.
When it comes to strengthening and toning, the water will provide resistance while supporting your joints. Try step-ups on the graduated steps to work your glutes and quads — taken two at a time, if you really want to feel the burn.
Swimming is great exercise for kids too. Read our A - Z of reasons why.
3. Need some cardio by stealth? Try trampolining
Did you know trampolining — or rebounding as it’s sometimes called — is the exercise of choice for NASA? One of their landmark research studies shows that it increases cellular oxygenation, which energises the body and increases its resistance against colds, flu and other diseases. Rebounding is also NASA’s primary strategy to help rebuild bones and reverse osteoporosis in astronauts. Plus reliving your childhood on a trampoline is so much fun you’ll hardly notice you’re out of breath.
4. Take your ‘circuit’ skills to a new level at the park
Jumping, swinging and balancing on equipment at the local park will challenge your coordination and fitness and boost your mood. Your children can take to the jungle bars in their playpark and then you can take to the parallel bars in the outdoor gym. If that equipment isn't available, kicking a football around for as little as 10 minutes provides physical and mental health benefits too. Plus, you’ll be too busy trying to impress your child to notice how much exercise you’re doing.
5. Have a family disco
Crank up the feel-good tunes and turn your lounge into a disco. Mastering the ‘Floss’ is great for coordination, and cardio, not to mention the laughs, plus studies show that dancing can increase people’s physical fitness, strength and abilities, often more effectively than other forms of exercise
An open-minded approach to exercise can make it easier to include the whole family, stick to a healthy lifestyle and have fun while you keep fit. And after running around with your kids, you can rest easy knowing you’re setting a good example: recent research from the University of Cambridge found that when parents are active, their children are more likely to be active too.
Last updated Thursday 29 April 2021