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Our Favourite Ways to Keep Kids Active

With the Olympics over and children back to school, keeping the next generation active and inspired is key

 

The Olympics have inspired a generation of children and adults to get up off the sofa, get active and try something new. Who knew that archery or badminton could be so exciting!

Keeping kids active

Now is the time to keep the spirit alive and encourage continued involvement in active pursuits. Not everyone is the next Jessica Ennis, but even she had to start somewhere.

Be it a casual game of football around in the park or a silly race, keeping kids active can be fun and it gives us an excuse to pull out our trainers and harken back to the day we dreamed of being the next Andre Agassi or Steffi Graf.

Set a goal and train!

Sometimes, despite our best efforts, our fitness regime takes a dive when we have more than just our own schedules to think about. So why not make a conscious effort to combine physical activity with family time. Spending one-on-one time with your children can be important in how your relationships develops and the amount of competition between siblings.

Just like the Olympic athletes, we all have our personal bests.

So why not train as a pair or as the whole family, pick your exercises and activities, see where you are at now and set targets for the future.

Chart their achievements (and your own) over a longer period of time and see how much progress they make. Attaining a new personal best is a great feeling.

Taking this a step further, why not decide to train for something specific. More and more Charity runs are allowing children to join in. Take the time to choose a cause you all believe in and then train for the next big run/walk.

The Race for Life* and The Poppy Run** both openly encourage the participation of a younger generation, to name just a few.

Get out and about

Just because the weather is changing and it will get colder as the year progresses, don't keep the kids indoors. It's easy to fall into an indoor routine with all of the gizmos and gadgets around today.

Encourage outdoor activity on a daily basis. Walk to/from school when it's not raining (or even if it is, remember how much fun puddle jumping can be on the way home from school), take the family pet for a play in the park or head to the local pool for a dip. Wearing trainers and comfy clothes when you go for a walk leaves you open to more possibilities. You never know when you’ll need to spot your tree climber or retrieve a ball from the other side of the fence!

Remember that todays' children need more rapid-fire stimulation than we did. Just going for a walk may not seem like the most exciting proposition, but remember two things:

  1. Don't ask if they want to go for a walk, phrase it as if it's a done deal! Don't leave room for discussion. Alternatively give them two choices, both things you want them to do, and let them choose. They feel like they got to choose and you are happy either way!
  2. Make it more engaging! Don't just go for a walk, make it a scavenger hunt, take up geo-caching, or encourage them to bring a friend!

Make chores playful

Just the word chore has a negative connotation, yet when it seems like a game, it's no longer work! Think of Mary Poppins famous song, A Spoonful of Sugar! When you put a positive spin on things, you usually end up having fun.

Let the children loose on the garden weeds, have a bed making competition, see who can pick up the toys the fastest or let them run through the hose when you water the garden or wash the car, when there isn’t a hose pipe ban of course!

Recently we have stopped expecting children to help with chores as it seems like more of a hassle to argue than to do them yourself. But keeping children involved in household activities not only keeps them active but also gives them a sense of pride in where they live, and it makes them realise that mom, or dad as the case may be, are not their hired help!

Lead by example

Children look up to their role models and whether you are a parent, childminder or another adult influence. If you are active the ones who look up to you will be more inclined to join you. If you do yoga in the morning, let the children join in, or if that's your quiet moment, have a time you set aside to teach them.

Coaching a local kids team means your child is likely to want to get involved. Just remember when you are the coach and when you are the parent! Putting sport and active living at the forefront of your life style gives it a position of importance in the mind of your child.

Family play dates

Need an excuse to put your feet up and enjoy a cup of tea or maybe even a glass of wine? Why not invite friends over for the whole family. Children are usually more active when there are other children around to play with, and if both sets of parents are around, everyone can take a minute to relax and enjoy!

It's a good idea to discuss ahead of time some of the things the kids could get up to, so that electronic games don't become the sole focus!  Although active games on the Wii, like bowling will keep them all participating.

Even better, go out on an adventure walk with both families and end up somewhere for a nice pub meal. Moms and Dads can have some grown-up time, while the kids will be entertained and tired out and ready for bed by the time you get home!

Join a club/class

Race for Life

If all else fails, let them join the club they have been talking about! Be it an after school football club or a local dance class, find out what sport has inspired your children and let them have a go.

Not only is this a great way to learn a new skill and keep fit, it promotes socialisation and a chance to mix with a different group of kids! And you'll have another few hours a week to get to work on your own to do list, or know you can stay a few minutes late at the office one day a week.

References

* Girls aged five or over can enter Race for Life, but they must be registered before your event day. All children under the age of five (boys or girls) do not have to be registered and they can come along free of charge. Boys under the age of 12 (on the day of their event) are able to take part in Race for Life, if they are signed up by an adult female who is also taking part in the same race.

** Everyone is welcome to take part in the Poppy Run regardless of age and under 16's have a lower entry fee. We do however request that all entrants under the age of 13 are accompanied by an adult who has also entered.

Image References

Race for Life photo courtesy of Cancer Research UK.

 
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