Radio Scotland and family fitness
I was invited on to the Radio Scotland Fred MacAulay show today to talk about family fitness. Fred was asking for tips and ideas for getting parents and children to do more exercise together. I have written a great deal about family fitness and there are many benefits, including setting a healthy example for your children and improving communication channels between parents and children (no one can glaze over staring at a computer game or Facebook page while cycling or walking in the hills). Research shows that families that exercise together have improved relationships and a healthier outlook on life.
Tips for family fitness
* Give your children lots of choice. Take them cycling, walking, running, to play tennis and golf. Go sea kayaking, skiing, or jump together on the trampoline. Try roller blading, skateboarding and surfing. In amongst all these activities there will be something that you will all enjoy doing together.
* Don’t just jump in the car to go to the shops or school. Make walking and cycling a normal thing to do. Show kids that thee are many options for travelling around your local area.
* Take up and learn a new sport together.
* Make it fun. Exercising for exercise sake is boring. Set goals, think up new ways to exercise, do fun things together.
* Start young. There a bike trailers for little ones and tag-alongs for when they are older. There a baby carriers for walking. Go swimming with youngsters or take them to a dry ski slope. If children are introduced to exercise with you when they are young they will see it as a normal activity.
* Set good examples. If kids see you lacing up your trainers for a run or setting out to take part in a Sunday bike ride then they are more likely to see exercise as something they can and want to do.
I do believe that if children see exercise as a normal part of daily routine that they will be more likely to exercise themselves. Perhaps they will turn against exercise in their teens but the knowledge that exercise is possible for all will stay with them into their adult years.
Five great ways to exercise as a family
Walking treasure hunt: Walking for walking’s sake can be boring for kids so enthuse the kids with a prize for finding, for example, five different shaped leaves, a natural item in every shade of the rainbow, or do three bark rubbings of different trees. And don’t forget lots of snacks and juice for the walk.
Cycle trailquest: There are routes set up, for example on the Isle of Arran, but you can also make your own Trailquest. The idea is to tick off checkpoints on a map while cycling. Head to a forest with lots of trails and give the kids a map then see if they can ride to all the checkpoints.
Exer-gaming: If it’s raining, don’t just sit on the couch indoors. Get the kids involved in games such as Wii dance, tennis or boxing, or similar. These are fun and burn calories.
Kids know how to have fun: Trampolines, pogo sticks, skateboards and football. Join your kids with these fun – and keep-fit – activities. They will love showing you what to do for once.
Inside circuits: Set up an exercise class in your own home. If you have an exercise bike, stepper or treadmill this can be part of the circuits. Otherwise use wobble boards, resistance bands, yoga mats etc and add in exercise such as sit-ups, lunges, running on the spot. Set up 10 exercise “stands” and then time each other to complete a circuit. Who will win?
Do you have any great suggestions for exercising as a family?