What’s your 2015 New Year’s resolution? If you’ve resolved to get fit, do more exercise, lose weight or improve your diet, you’re not alone. In 2014 these promises made up the three most common New Year’s Resolutions made by adults in Britain. But there’s a reason that almost 80% of people fail to achieve their plans in the New Year.
When it comes to fitness, time is the enemy. It’s hard enough fitting in exercise with all the day-to-day pressures of modern life, but throw a young family into the mix and you’ve got yourself a very real barrier to being able to commit to a regular exercise regime. But this really doesn’t have to be the case. In fact, your family could be exactly what you need to motivate yourself to become a fitter you!
We’re sure you wouldn’t be surprised to hear that ‘spending more time with family’ is also in the top 10 list of New Year’s Resolutions. That’s why we’ve put together some simple ideas for how you can get fit while doing exactly this – spending time with the family.
1. Get Your Game On
Family games are a big part of the fun of the festive season. But do you find that when the holidays are over and everyone’s back at work or school there just isn’t the time to play family games that often? If you are one of the many families that experience this, then you’re missing out on a great opportunity for some family fitness!
Any game where you’re on your feet and moving can be a great way to squeeze some extra activity into your life. Think games like Twister or charades, the ones that you find yourself red-faced playing on Christmas Day after a couple of sherries!
Alternatively if, like most parents, you find it difficult to drag your kids away from their video games, then why not join them? The Wii (or Wii U), with its unique motion-sensitive controllers, has some fantastic family games that will have you and the kids out of breath and in tears of laughter in no time. And believe it or not, you could burn up to 7 calories per minute playing the likes of the classic Wii Sports!
2. Take a Walk
Whether it’s a walk to the local shops, a stroll in the park or a hike up one of the UK’s many spectacular mountains, walking is possibly the simplest form of exercise you can do with your family. Even a relatively gentle walk will burn over 100 calories in just half an hour. As well as the obvious health benefits to your physical fitness, walking is also beneficial for your mood, boosting serotonin levels and endorphins. You also get a vitamin D boost as your body creates it via the skin’s exposure to sunlight.
Despite its simplicity and how enjoyable it can be, walking is surprisingly easy not to do. We recommend fitting walking into your regular routine, whether that’s by planning a weekly trip to the park or by leaving early once a week and walking to somewhere you’d usually drive to.
3. Dance your way to Better Health
Dancing can be one of the great pleasures of life! But it doesn’t have to be restricted to the occasional night out or the work Christmas party. Dancing is the perfect way to get the whole family active with next to no effort. No need to organise it, simply play music in your home and start. Before you know it the whole family will be dancing too – it’s infectious you know!
Not only will dancing improve fitness, but it will also boost the confidence and self-esteem of you and your family as well as helping to bring you all closer to one another. If that’s not enough, research at Stanford University even showed that dancing makes you smarter!
4. Work Out in the Water
Swimming is so great for family fitness because as well as being excellent exercise – you’ll burn 250 calories with just 20 mins of breaststroke – almost anyone can do it. Even children as young as just 6 months old can take part via parent and child swimming classes. You don’t even have to swim, simply playing in a pool can be excellent exercise!
Swimming is fantastic exercise for adults and children alike and is undeniably great fun. For babies, the benefits of swimming are numerous. The physiological benefits include improving your child’s strength, breathing and coordination. As it stimulates all 5 senses, swimming is also excellent mental exercise and has proven benefits to learning and mental health. Last but not least, the skin-to-skin contact experienced while swimming with your baby actually strengthens the bond between you and your child.
5. Try Something New to get Fighting Fit
Trying to take up a sport or hobby that another friend or family member does can be challenging. Facing that initial learning curve while they are more proficient than you can be off-putting. Imagine how much worse this is for a child trying to keep up with their parent. Or vice versa even. The solution? Try something new as a family.
Martial arts are the perfect example of a new activity that you can try to get fit with your family. Martial arts, such as judo, karate and kung fu, are a fantastic cross-generational activity, offering challenge and benefits to adults down to children as young as 4 or 5 years old. As well as being great exercise, martial arts teaches focus, self discipline and will greatly boost the confidence of its participants.
Who says chores have to be a chore? Believe it or not, children have a natural, intrinsic drive to be productive members of a household. Tapping into this will be fulfilling for your child, bringing you closer as a family unit, create a healthy work ethic and, of course, help keep you and them fit and active
Using a little imagination you and your family can turn almost any household task into a game or a fun challenge. A little music can do wonders to get you and your family motivated or you could try a reward chart to promote the benefits of such positive behaviour. Remember to start small; too much too soon can be overwhelming for children.
7. Mother and Baby Workouts
If you’re a mother with a baby, swimming isn’t the only exercise you can do with your child. Postnatal mother and baby fitness classes have become hugely popular in recent years, and for good reason. Post pregnancy exercise can help you in so many ways, including combating postnatal depression, helping you rid yourself of any ‘baby weight’, raising energy levels and offering the opportunity to meet new mothers like yourself. This last one is particularly important during early motherhood, when building a support network can be vital to help you cope and keep you sane!
8. Get Active for Charity
Doing good and giving back might be the excuse you and your family need to get more active! Almost anything can be done to raise money for charity, from traditional fun runs and bike rides to dance marathons and treasure hunts.
Fundraising isn’t the only way that charity can help your family get active. Volunteering can also be an extremely fulfilling way of getting out and about. To really get your children engaged we’d recommend looking into volunteering at your local Wildlife Trust. The Wildlife Trusts work with local communities to help to protect precious local habitats and species. Volunteering opportunities range from community gardening, species surveying such as looking for otters, caring for nature reserves, dry stone walling, hedge laying, habitat management, plant identification and GPS mapping. Not only will you and your family be outside getting fit, you’ll be learning about nature and the environment and earning the deep satisfaction of making a difference.
If you decide that family fitness is for you, the best advice we can give is to make it part of your family’s regular routine. It’s all too easy to try something new but then, no matter how fun it was, find that every day life takes over and pushes it to the sidelines. By making healthy family activities part of your regular schedule you’ll find that everything else will fit in around it and you and your family will look forward to the time together. We recommend a family calendar placed prominently in your house to reinforce the importance of your time together and make sure no one forgets!