It’s hard finding time to squeeze in the gym between work, home and running around with the kids all day. It makes those New Year fitness resolutions even harder to manage. Instead, consider family fitness as a whole and work out alongside your kids. Just like adults, kids who are physically fit sleep better, handle physical and mental challenges better, and have better health. So with the kids on school holidays – and after they go back to school – how can the whole family get fit? Here are 6 great ways you can get fit with kids in tow…
Back in the yard
From a basketball hoop to a trampoline, there are ways to get fit in even the smallest garden. Trampolining burns more calories than jogging, stimulates the lymphatic system, and reduces stress. It’s even recommended for older people – so grandparents can have a go too!
At the park
Open spaces at the park allow you to play frisbee, football and teach younger children to scooter or bicycle. There’s no reason you can’t get a scooter yourself – it’s great for toning your buttocks, thighs and calves. Scooter riding also engages the upper body more than cycling does.
In the playground
Swinging on a swing burns 200 calories an hour, and you can use it to help tone abdominal muscles and condition your joints, tendons and ligaments. It’s also very relaxing. See here for some ideas of exercises you can do with a swing. Kids will also develop strength and coordination from climbing frames, and being the “heavy end” of the seesaw can result in doing some good squats.
On the beach
It’s not just about getting wet – Australia is the land of beach cricket, and there are few things more fun – or arduous – than running on soft sand. Studies suggest it burns 50% more energy while also cushioning your joints better. Because there’s less rebound than harder road surfaces, your quads, hip flexors and glutes are all forced to engage more. Just a few minutes of chasing children along the beach should be good for aerobic fitness. Digging sand for sandcastles also gives your hands and arms a workout.
By the pool
With younger kids that can’t swim yet, it’s hard to do much regular swimming of your own. But swimming with them on your back will make your body work harder. And you can do stretches while supervising them in the shallow end. Once they can manage a doggy paddle, have races, and handicap yourself by swimming with just your arms.
Into the bush
Even quite young children can hike, and bushwalking is great for targeting your glutes, hip and leg muscles while also teaching them about nature. Carrying a backpack works your shoulders, and it also strengthens your core and improves balance. Picking your way over rough ground also sharpens your concentration. While smaller children will be slower, you’ll find them surprisingly nimble.
Many children and adults don’t get nearly enough exercise these days, with technology addiction and safety fears all to blame. By reclaiming the outdoors and realigning fitness with fun, your family can enjoy a much more active, healthier future.
Chloe Quin is wellness expert with online health insurance provider Health.com.au, whose mission is to help Australians access affordable healthcare that’s easy to understand. Also a qualified yoga instructor, Chloe is passionate about empowering women to boost their health and fitness in fun, family-friendly ways.