Obesity is a growing problem â€“ and not just for adults. More children than ever are obese, and that figure is predicted to rise. Obese kids are more likely to become obese adults, with all of the associated health risks. With lack of exercise as big a culprit as poor diet, making sure that you and your kids stay active will benefit everyoneâ€™s health. And you can make it a fun, family activity that everyone enjoys.
The following may give you some inspiration â€“ depending on the age of your family, you may need to adapt them to suit.
Walking. Itâ€™s free, itâ€™s low impact, and itâ€™ll get you from A to B. Why not get into the habit of a regular family walk after dinner? To keep it fun for the youngsters, try to choose a route that has a lot of interest â€“ trees, streams, hills â€“ basically, if itâ€™s a straight, flat path, kids are going to find it dull. If you really donâ€™t have any interesting terrain to amble over, play some games whilst you walk. My favourites are: how fast can you reach a landmark without breaking into a run, how many red cars can you count whilst on your walk, how many different birds and or other wildlife can you spot (the kids can draw them when you get in and keep a log book), who can do the most silly, over the top walk?
Dancing. You can either just stick on a favourite CD and boogie on down, or you could attempt to learn a routine (yes, you could even do the Macarena) â€“ whatever your family thinks is most fun. Itâ€™ll burn calories and boost your mood at the same time. If your little one isnâ€™t toddling yet, dance with them in your arms. Theyâ€™ll get a feel for the music (and think itâ€™s great fun) and youâ€™ll get an arm workout. Â To make â€˜dancing hourâ€™ even more entertaining, play â€˜musical statuesâ€™. Someone takes control of the music and when they hit pause, everyone has to freeze and stand completely still. Â Last one to freeze loses, and takes over the music.
Badminton. Probably only suitable for those with older kids as some hand-eye coordination is necessary, but badminton is a great child-friendly racquet sport, as itâ€™s slightly slower than tennis so allows time to react.Â To make it fairer, adults should play with their left hand if theyâ€™re right-handed, and vice-versa.
Obstacle courses.Â Building an obstacle course can be a great way to while away an afternoon. First, get the kids to design the course with paper and crayons, which should keep them out of mischief for a while. Then, build the course and take turns running around it, timing each other. Have a prize ready for the winner to really get the competitive spirit going! This is a fun, free way to burn calories and increase fitness.
Board games with a difference. Board games are a great, cheap way to have fun family time, but theyâ€™re usually a pretty sedentary activity. Â Introduce some fun elements of exercise in to your board game by changing the rules up a bit. For instance, if the game youâ€™re playing has a dice, every time someone rolls a six they have to jump up and run around the room six times. If a player lands on a certain square, they have to do ten jumping jacks. If a player gets sent directly to jail, they have to do some â€˜drillâ€™ exercises like sit-ups etc.
Staying active and fit as a family has a host of benefits. Not only will it allow you to enjoy family bonding time and save money on your family health insurance policy by keeping healthy, but fit, healthy-weight children are more likely to grow into healthy adults, so youâ€™re safeguarding your kidâ€™s future.