Fitness blogger Paul Stainthorpe, aka Father Fitness, shares his surprising ideas to help you and your family get fitter, healthier and happier this year
During school holidays and long weekends, it’s difficult to juggle keeping fit with keeping the kids entertained, so why not combine the two? I transformed from an unfit guy to a super-fit dad after my son was born, as I was driven to change my body and become healthier for my family.
The easiest way to stay active is to have fun doing it – whether that’s competing on the football pitch, walking in the countryside or playing together in the back garden. Here are 7 tried and tested ways to stay active as a family…
1. Go on a nature trail
We do lots of walking, especially since we welcomed Yogi the dog into our family. The whole family love fresh air and muddy trails. I created a nature trail activity sheet to help keep the kids entertained on walks. It’s simple to follow and they can tick off things like birds, plants and puddles as they spot them.
2. Go to parkrun with Vitality together
I love running and have taken part in more than 50 parkruns. They’re all about inclusivity and the idea that everyone can come together and run, whatever your age or ability. When the kids are older, we’ll run one together as a family. There are also junior parkruns – 2k runs for kids aged 4-14 – that work in the same way every Saturday across the country. For an extra fun challenge, we’re heading to new event VitalityMove this summer to all take part in the family-friendly music runs together.
3. Take a class together
Some gyms offer classes for young movers so you can book them in at the same time as doing your session (check out Virgin Active’s classes for junior gym-goers). Or search in your local area for aerobic or yoga classes that children and parents can do together. According to researchers at Harvard Medical School, yoga is proven to stimulate younger ones’ mental and emotional abilities, improving self-esteem and performance at school.
4. Involve the kids in your routine
I do a lot of weight training since we converted our garage into a gym. The kids love to come in and help and they give me an extra workout challenge. They sit on my back when I’m doing press-ups and hang off my legs when I’m doing pull-ups.
5. Create your own ball games
You can’t underestimate the fun of ball games, and getting the kids involved helps with their hand-eye co-ordination as well as their confidence. With younger ones, it’s fun to make up your own rules and let them be creative. Try a simple game of catch in a circle or a mini game of volleyball where you don’t let the ball hit the ground. My son and I also play a fun one-a-side football game, where you score a goal by kicking the ball through the other person’s legs. Need more inspiration? Check out Vitality’s ambassadors in action for #BringABall here.
6. Try trampolining
We have a large trampoline in our garden and it’s a great way to have some fun and keep fit. Just jumping up and down at your own pace can burn mega calories. You can burn as many calories in 10 minutes of trampolining as 30 minutes of jogging! Try mixing up some jumps by landing on your bum and knees to help with balance. Don’t have a trampoline at home? Take a trip to an Oxygen Freejumping trampoline park. These indoor trampolining centres offer everything from activities for toddlers to trampolining classes and freejumping workshops. Be sure to use a trampoline safely and responsibly to avoid injury.
7. Join a family jogging group
Jogging with your buggy in tow is great exercise (you can burn around 20% more calories than regular jogging). There are now buggies built specifically for joggers, which are more lightweight and engineered for speed and agility. If you need the motivation of jogging with a workout buddy, sign up to your nearest buggy fitness group or BuggyFit – they’re usually held in your local park or you can take yours along to parkrun.