They say a family that eats together, stays together. Well I’d argue that a family that exercises together, stays together too.
Research shows that not only does a family grow physically fitter by exercising together, the bond they share is strengthened too owing to the quality time and teamwork involved.
We’re quite an active family – Misery Guts is currently training to run the Marathon Des Sables, a 150-mile ultra-marathon across the Sahara Desert, and I go running and swimming regularly – but exercising together as a family of five is easier said than done.
With different ages and abilities finding an activity that the whole family can do (and will enjoy) can be tricky: we’re the owners of a six-year-old, a three-year-old and a one-year-old whose strengths – and interests – vary wildly.
So how can we exercise together as a family?
We’ve teamed up with Simplyhealth to help bang the drum for their #MyEveryStep campaign, which is all about everyday health and the little things we can do to take better care of ourselves and lead a happier and healthier life. After shining a light on simple ways we can look after ourselves as mums, this time we’re looking at fun things we can do to exercise as a family.
10 fun ways to exercise as a family
1. Go swimming. Swimming is a great activity to suit all ages, and lots of fun too (see 10 ways swimming can help your baby grow). Entry is free for under 16s at many local council swimming pools, so you needn’t break the bank doing it, and the bonus is it’ll tire them out, which means you might get a bit of a break when they flake out afterwards.
2. Go walking. Whether it’s to your local park at the weekend of further afield, walking has a whole host of benefits from improving physical fitness and mood to improving cardiac health. We’re National Trust members and often go to the properties near us at weekends where they always have walks and trails for little ones.
3. Go running. Simplyhealth partners the Great Run series, which includes Junior and Mini runs, Family Mile and Toddler Dash running events as well as longer runs in 13 cities across the UK. They even do a canine run so you can take the dog! To find an event near you click here.
4. Get gardening. Gardening is a great all-round work out. Cutting grass, digging and planting all counts as physical activity, and you can teach them about eating healthily in the process. If you don’t have a garden don’t let that stop you: we live in a 4th floor flat and don’t have any outside space at all, so we got an allotment instead.
First blackberry of the year on the allotment! A rather handsome Loch Ness (shown off by a rather handsome boy even if I do say so myself 😍) which is thornless so child friendly👌 Needless to say it didn’t make it home 😂😂😂 #family #fun #garden #gardening #allotment #allotmentlife #homegrown #childhood #childhoodunplugged #capturingchildhood #capturingtheday #funseekingkids #oureverydaymoments #documentyourdays #snaphappybritmums @britmums
5. Go on a bike ride. Got bikes gathering dust in the garage? Get them out! Cycling develops strength, balance and overall fitness as well as burning up calories. If you’ve got a baby like us then a seat on the handlebars will put a smile on their face, and if you’re worried about roads check out Cycling UK for family friendly routes across the UK.
6. Have a water fight. There’s nothing like a good old-fashioned water fight to get them squealing and running around. And it’ll transport you back to your childhood too.
7. Wash the car. It’s a job that needs to be done, so why not make it a fun one? You can always have that water fight afterwards.
8. Play hide and seek. Another blast from the past, a classic game of hide and seek gets everyone on their feet and moving without even realising they’re doing it. Whether it’s indoors if it’s raining or outside if it’s not, all ages can get involved in this activity including Granny and Granddad!
9. Go roller skating. The 1980s revival of roller skates has led to a host of family-friendly roller discos and events popping up all over the country. Google family roller skating and you’ll find what’s on near you.
10. Get a dog. Dog owners enjoy various health and social benefits thanks to their furry friends including improved cardiovascular health and stronger muscles and bones owing to dog walking. Dogs are also great for children: kids learn empathy and compassion through caring for a pet, as well as accountability and obligation. Remember though, a dog is for life, not just for Christmas.
Do you exercise together as a family? What are your favourite activities? I’d love to hear what they are!
This post was written in collaboration with Simplyhealth. I’m proud to be supporting their #MyEveryStep campaign, shining a light on the little steps we can all take to leading a healthy life every day. As always all opinions are my own and based on my own honest experience. To find out more about Simplyhealth’s #MyEveryStep campaign follow @SimplyhealthUK on Twitter and Instagram.