We all want to keep our families healthy, but if you’re anything like us, you’ll often run out of steam when it comes to motivating everyone – particularly if you aren’t feeling 100% motivated yourself – and thinking of activities they’ll enjoy. With technology that brings us food on demand and allows us to watch TV and play games as and when, it’s no surprise that our digitally-savvy kids are some of the hardest to persuade!
As October is International Walk to School Month, we thought it’d be a good time to lend a helping hand to families.
That’s why we have reached out to blogger parents for tips and advice for staying active. Of course, every weekend can’t include expensive trips to activity parks, so we hope you’ll get more than a little inspiration for alternatives in this guide!
Without further ado, here’s what they told us.
Ban the Car, No Matter Where You’re Going
Let’s begin by playing hardball – after all, it’s always best to start as you mean to go on.
Tom, the very determined parent behind Diary of the Dad knows that the winter weather can put us off getting our daily exercise in, but he doesn’t take no for an answer.
“We’ve made a conscious decision not to drive so this basically forces us to get exercise all year round!
“I think it’s particularly important during the winter months as the shorter days can give us all the blues. Getting outside, moving around and enjoying fresh air is a perfect remedy to that.
“If the kids are reluctant at weekends, we make it fun by taking them geocaching or promising that the route will involve a visit to a cake shop. That usually does the trick! So, if you’re able to leave the car keys at home now and then and walk instead, I heartily recommend it.”
Of course, never setting foot in the car again might be unrealistic for some families, but why not establish set days when the car stays safely tucked up in the garage and the whole families steps into their walking boots? Perhaps every Sunday, when schedules are less hectic.
This could even be a great time to raise their awareness of diet in conjunction with exercise, using our extremely handy fitness tools! Check out our pace and calories burned calculators in the Health and Fitness Hub now.
Lead by Example
Aisling from Mummy on the Run finds that her kids are interested in exercise partially because she is, so she encourages leading by example.
“As a running mum, I have found that with parenthood, my running has taken on a new responsibility – that is to inspire my kids – to run for fun, for relaxation, for competition, for energy – the list goes on.
“Both have said that they want to run a marathon one day to be like mummy and I find it immensely rewarding to know that I am inspiring them in this way. My daughter, aged four, has run a couple of parkruns – at her request. Parkrun is an amazing initiative and enables kids to enjoy the camaraderie of the sport.
“Making exercise fun, incorporating it into daily family life and setting an example are important ways we can inspire our kids to enjoy exercising.”
There’s nothing like watching somebody else have fun to make you want to join in after all!
Make Exercise Fun
Many of our blogger mums and dads had this point to make – exercise should be fun! It’s easy for adults to forget with our hectic lives that exercise isn’t just for burning calories and keeping our tickers healthy.
If you find the right activity for you, working up a sweat can be enjoyable and will also release endorphins in the brain; giving you a warm, happy feeling.
Just listen to Charlotte from Mummy Fever. If you can encourage the kids to get passionate about something, you might just find that you’re looking for opportunities to relax more than anything else!
“I’d say that you need to look for fun ways to keep the family active. For example, perhaps you could all head to a trampoline park, go for a long walk (with wellies) together, a family bike ride etc.
“It’s not something we find too hard as a family as the children all do sports. For example, the younger two go to gymnastics and swimming lessons, one of the older children does lifeguarding and basketball and my eldest is on every school sports team going and swims for a club five times a week.
“On top of that we like to be active as a family, so to be honest, for us it’s more about finding the time to slow down a bit.”
Phew! That sounds like one busy week.
It will come as no surprise that Emma Friars from Powerhouse Fitness knows all about maintaining your health and wellbeing. She recommends a nature hike with an educational aspect to keep their interest engaged!
“One of my favourite family activities is to take a nature hike. Not only will this get you and your kids plenty of exercise, but it’s a great opportunity to add some educational value into the mix too.
“You can even turn your hike into a scavenger hunt: get your children to collect leaves, pinecones, and the like, then use them in a craft session when you get home. If you swot up on your local nature facts, you can also impart some valuable knowledge to your kids.
“Up the ante on your hike by combining it with a real treasure hunt. Geocaching is an adventurous and exciting activity that involves searching for containers that are hidden by other enthusiasts in nearly two million different locations around the world. You find the hidden cache and record the time and date of your discovery for the owner to discover later.”
Utilise Errand Time!
If you’ve always wanted to get a family dog, maybe that is exactly what you are missing to help the family get more active.
Karen from That Lancashire Lass told us that her family are used to going out for walks often, thanks to their furry friend.
“We are a really active family. Having a dog means we need to walk regularly anyway, so we use that time to do something fun like geocaching or foraging… or just enjoying our time together outdoors. There is always somewhere new to go too, so adventure waits around every corner!”
If a dog wouldn’t quite suit your lifestyle, try making other errands into a family affair, from walking to the grocery store and helping to carry the shopping home, to weeding the garden.
Commit to “Unplugging” Once in a While!
As Carrie from Flying with a Baby says, technology is important, and it’s likely to be even more so in the future. Discouraging your kids from keeping up with the latest tech would be a mistake, but like Carrie explains – it’s important to get the balance right.
“I think technology has its place and times have clearly changed,” she commented
“Whereas kids years ago had relatively little choice of kids TV programmes, going outside to play was often a favoured option. Nowadays kids need to be tech-savvy to be prepared for a continually evolving tech world.
“However, saying that, everything in moderation, and playing outdoors and running about is essential for kids too. There needs to be a balance as being healthy & fit is fundamentally important.”
If you think this will be easier said than done in your household, why not take a leaf from This Enchanted Pixie’s book? Also known as Polly, this mum suggests setting time limits for screen time per day, or “unplugging” all technology when the active fun begins!
“As a mother, I’m very aware of finding the balance between screen time for my kids and encouraging them to be active. We have set limits at home for how much screen time they are allowed, and plenty of unplugged time when we’ll go out for hikes, or bike rides, or even just play in the garden.”
It’s important to remember that the light from screens can affect the quality of our sleep, which can then, in turn, leave us feeling lethargic the following day. Make sure you’re getting eight hours under your belts!
Make Like The Scouts and Be Prepared!
It’s hard enough getting kids out the door as it is, and the most determined adult can lose their cool if they don’t feel comfortable and organised when they’re out on the move!
“Children getting outdoors is something I am passionate about. My best advice for families trying to stay active is to be prepared.
“Invest in good quality winter wear like all-in-ones for the children and good wellies. If you are wrapped up warm and protected against the elements then it is easier to explore the seasons better.”
At Wynsors, we have plenty of hard-wearing, stylish and affordable kit to get the whole family primed and ready for an adventure. Browse walking boots and running trainers for footwear that everyone wants to step out in!
Develop a Mantra like Otis and Us
If you’re ever lacking motivation, simply read this mantra we received from Katy at Otis and Us:
“We firmly believe that children should be encouraged to get outside, have mud on their clothes, sand in their wellies and smiles on their faces.”
We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.
What Can You Do Next?
We hope you got some amazing family fitness ideas from these helpful mums and dads!
Now that you’re all set, why not take part in our #WalkWithWynsors competition? We’re giving away a Family Activity Pack worth up to £550 to one lucky participant who tags us in a fun photo or video of their family exercising together. Find out more here!