THE word ‘exercise’ often conjures up images of miserably running on a treadmill for hours and sweating buckets, but exercise is any activity that elevates your heart rate and stretches you to a little beyond your normal comfort zone. It can be as varied and fun as you choose.
Getting fit as a family has the added bonus of strengthening bonds and creating memories. By making a game or challenge out of some everyday tasks, it is easy to incorporate exercise into your daily routine. Introducing just one exercise routine a week can have huge benefits for the whole family and can establish healthy lifelong habits.
With a little creativity and some motivational music, household chores can become a hard-core workout. Washing windows is a great workout for arms and upper body while vacuuming is great as a cardio workout. Inject some competitiveness and divide the family into mopping teams and have a race to see who can do the best, but fastest, job of mopping a room. Doing bicep curls with a butternut squash or squats while carrying the grocery bags are all imaginative ways of using more muscle in a daily task. Not only will your bodies benefit, but you will also have a sparkling home.
Charity walks are a great way of getting involved with a cause in your community and get fitter at the same time. Involve the whole family in keeping an eye on your local noticeboards or use Google to find an upcoming walk that you would like to support. Depending on your level of fitness, choose if you would like to walk or run it. Having an upcoming walk circled on the calendar is a great incentive to the family as a goad to work towards and has the added feel-good factor of knowing you are helping a good cause with your efforts.
Riding a bicycle is a great exercise that burns around 300 calories for each hour of pedalling.
Depending on the age of your children and their traffic sense, you can use one of the cycle routes to get a different perspective of the city or find a quiet path away from traffic and ride there. The sheer fun of riding a bicycle is a great way to spend some family time while building core stability and balance. However, there is no need to limit yourself to bicycles - alternate by rollerblading or scootering the route every other week.
Combining exercise with curiosity is a win-win situation as it stimulates the mind and the body.
Getting out into nature and exploring a woodland walk or investigating a rock pool on the sea shore are great ways to get active together. Look for seasonal things such as acorns and autumn leaves and make a collage when you get home or have a nature-tray where you keep all your findings which will range from raven feathers to limpet shells. If you cannot get to a forest or shore, do a heritage walking trail around your town or city and be surprised by how much you learn from the information boards along the way.
Don’t underestimate the fun of a game of family hide-and-seek or tag. It really can work up a sweat and provide a lot of laughs along the way. If you are limited for outdoor space, use these games as an idea when you next visit your local park. Also, handstands and cartwheels are a great way of stretching aerobically and give the rush of feeling young again. Take the opportunity to teach your children some of the playground games you remember from your youth. It is worth knowing that while you are having such fun with your family, games that include a lot of running and chasing burn an average 150 calories an hour, boost metabolism and lower the risk of disease.
Sometimes a parent feels like their main purpose in life is to drive their children to extracurricular activities. Why not get in on the fun and take a class together as family. Choose a fitness orientated class like Tae kwon Do, Aerobics, Yoga or Zumba and get the whole family signed up. You might benefit in price as well by being offered a group deal.
Once you add the word ‘party’ onto an activity, you immediately set a fun tone to it. Throw an impromptu dance party in your home whenever you feel a bit sluggish - it is guaranteed to shift the mood and get everyone active. Spend some time beforehand creating a playlist of everyone’s favourite tunes and do the conga around the kitchen or embarrass your children with some of your old dance moves. A variation on this is to have a Dog Walking Party – invite friends and neighbours to join you at an appointed time each week to establish a dog walking group.
There is never a change that is too small, even the smallest adjustments can have the greatest significance.