It’s not easy to juggle fitness and childcare – but according to Hanna Prince, by combining the two you can keep everyone happy. Please note this article was written before the current lockdown began. Please exercise safely, according to the regulations at the time.
It’s tempting to spend winter glued to the couch, but getting active can ease winter blues, boost vitamin D levels and improve the whole family’s health. Here’s how to kick off a winter of fitness-focussed family fun.
It’s unlikely you’ll convince your tablet obsessed seven-year-old to go for a run – but what about heading out for a fun cycle while you jog alongside them? Most kids are happy to pootle around on their bikes for unlimited time periods. The only challenge you might have is keeping up. There are plenty of brilliant places to run and cycle around Sussex, including the seafront between Saltdean and Brighton Marina, Cuckmere Haven, the Forest Way, the Worth Way, the Downs Link and the Cuckoo Trail.
START A SPORT TOGETHER
Picking up a new sport is a great way of getting fit and having fun while you do it. Don’t let winter weather put you off – even outdoor sports such as tennis, basketball, netball, rugby and football can be enjoyed all year round. If your kids are fans of scooting, skating or cycling, there are some excellent free skate parks and pump tracks around Sussex. Newhaven, Horsham, Crawley, Eastbourne and Burgess Hill all have top-class facilities for wheel based sports that are open to all ages. Feeling adventurous? Try climbing or bouldering, either at an indoor facility or at one of the Southern Sandstone climbing areas at Groombridge, Eridge or East Grinstead.
WORK FITNESS INTO YOUR ROUTINE
If your kids have a regular time for homework each day, why not begin with a short fitness routine? Spending ten minutes together skipping, hula hooping or just dancing to crazy music will put them in the right frame of mind for some school work (and it makes for great-quality family time too). Family friendly fitness videos are also a great way to get everyone moving.
SWAP WALKING FOR QUESTING
Walks are boring (at least in the minds of most kids). Quests, on the other hand, are amazingly fun. Turn a fitness-boost hike into something more imaginative by taking on the roles of different characters from a story. Maybe you’re Frodo, Sam and Gandalf en route to Mount Doom. Perhaps you’re Anna and Kristoff searching for Elsa’s ice palace. Or Robin and Little John escaping from the Sheriff of Nottingham. Imagination games work a treat when it comes to keeping up motivation – particularly for younger kids. If they’re a little older, a ‘treasure hunting’ activity such as geocaching or orienteering can add extra interest to a walk.
COMPETE WITH WEARABLES
Using wearable technology to set challenges and track progress is proven to help adults shape up – and now there are plenty of wearable options out there for children as well. Some allow you to hold competitions with other members of the family. Most kids can be convinced to get off the couch if it involved beating Mum or Dad’s step count!