There’s more to keeping fit than pounding the treadmill all alone. While many of us relish the sweaty solace that gym isolation can bring, there are ways you can incorporate fitness into family life. Why would you want to do that though?
I hear you. Believe me, I love my Wednesday evening get out of jail free time, even if I am running about on a muddy pitch getting soaked to the bone half of the time. However, there are benefits to including the kids in your fitness efforts.
As the primary example in your child’s life though, it’s not a bad idea to show them the importance of keeping fit. Most of the time, they do this naturally – active little beasts that they so often are. However, amid growing concerns about childhood inactivity and obesity, it’s time to take a look at how we can make keeping fit a priority, for the whole family.
Is there really a problem with kids keeping fit?
In short, yes.
The increase in childhood obesity and inactivity levels have been causing concern in the UK for some time. Most recently, concerns have been raised about the increase in children developing type-2 diabetes as a result of the so-called ‘obesity crisis’.
While it’s really easy to sit back and think that this probably doesn’t apply to your own children, it’s still something we should all try to work on collectively. One of the ways to do that is by encouraging our kids to choose healthier options and lead more physically active lifestyles. When looking into the research, keeping fit with the kids suddenly became more of a priority to me.
Ways to get started
Before you start signing up for any kind of fancy parent and child fitness boot camps, there are some simple ways you can approach keeping fit with the whole family.
First, it’s a good idea to work out what kind of activity your child will actually enjoy. There’s no point in introducing them to yoga or dance if they’d much rather be in the swimming pool. Talk to the kids about the kind of active pursuits they’re into, and then work out which one of those you can join in with too.
One of the ways I try and encourage my little girl to keep fit with me is by taking her to the local trampoline park. She absolutely loves it and by the time the session is over we’ve both worked up a decent sweat!
I also take her to the rugby club with me on a Saturday morning, as they run a children’s session for kids from walking age onward. My daughter is quite an outdoorsy type, so she loves to run around and play tag with her friends. Plus, she knows that rugby is quite a big part of my routine too, and so she likes to join in with ‘her rugby’, as well as watching ‘the mammies’ play.
Keeping at it
Remember that one of the main benefits of involving the kids in your keeping fit efforts is the opportunity for bonding and quality time. It sounds trite but actually doing something physical together is so much fun once you get over the initial resistance to the idea, and you’ll find that children absolutely love to see their parents actually ‘playing’ too.
Taking my little girl to an activity that she sees her mam being part of too has made a huge difference to us both. She
Activity ideas for keeping fit with the kids
So now you’ve decided to involve the kids in your keeping fit efforts, lets narrow down some options.
- Trampoline sessions – really fun and inclusive,
howeverthis could get expensive to maintain on a weekly basis, and the motivation could slip, so consider the longevity.
- Swimming – this is quite an age and skill-dependent kind of activity, and can often become more stressful than enjoyable for many parents! Take these factors into consideration though and if they’re old enough to swim fairly independently, it could be a great weekend activity for both of you.
- Football – there are lots of open spaces, parks and fields that you can use to have your own family kick about sessions! You can also join a football club or camp near you, but you’d need to check about the sessions, cost and whether or not you can get involved with the kids.
- Cycling – if you’ve got bikes and your older kids are competent riders, there’s no reason why you can’t have a weekly family cycle session. Just be sure to plan in advance for the colder, wetter months.
- Rugby – my activity of choice because of its natural inclusivity, there are lots of
family-friendlyrugby clubs across the UK that you can join and get involved with. Many places will take sessions indoors in the winter months too, so you can still keep playing even when it’s freezing.
- Yoga – if you’re more of a chilled-out bunch (lucky you), then there are lots of yoga clubs operating around the country who specialise in child and family sessions. A great way to increase your strength and flexibility while encouraging a sense of calm. You can even do it at home together, there are lots of great YouTube channels for parents and children to do yoga to.
Keeping fit means keeping the fun
Ultimately, involving your kids and approaching fitness as a whole family isn’t for everyone, but it does encourage a feeling of community and fun amongst yourselves. We all lead very isolating lives now; the kids have school, parents have work, we all do our own thing each day and opportunities to do something together are often few and far between.
Keeping fit with the kids isn’t just about exercise and health, it’s about keeping the fun in the family too and actively creating opportunities for togetherness. That’s what it’s all about.
Do your family do any kind of fitness activities together? I’d love to hear all about them. Drop me a comment below or you can find me over on Twitter too.