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Family activities: 10 ideas to keep moving

24th July 2014

FAMILY activities are important once school’s out for summer so how can you resist the call of the sofa, get your daily quota of exercise and keep the children amused at the same time? Here’s 10 fun ideas for you. For many parents the holidays mean a bit of a break from the frantic morning and school activities routine, which is always welcome.  After a frantic long summer term you may be desperate for a change of pace and a bit of a rest.

On the other hand, with the family at home, you may find that you do not have as much time to do your regular exercise routine and look after yourself.  It may be impossible to go to the gym or to go out for a run if it means leaving the children alone.

Even doing exercise at home can be awkward when small people are watching you…

If you are wondering how you will resist the call of the sofa this summer and how you will get your daily quota of exercise, while keeping the children amused at the same time, here are some family activities suggestions for you and for children of all ages:

1. Change4Life 10 Minute Shake up Programme

The objective of Change4Life is to get people eating more healthily and choosing to do more family activies.  Thinking Slimmer is proud to be an official national partner of Change4Life and to help spread their healthy message.

The 10 minute Shake Up is an activity programme, designed to get you and your children doing some small amount of activity for at least 10 minutes every day.  It is completely free, and when you sign up for it, your children will receive free packs with lots of ideas for staying active over the summer.

They can even choose the character on their pack, and there are some very popular choices including some characters from Frozen.

Here is an example of one of the 10 Minute Shake Up ideas:

Sign up for the summer Shake Up here >> 

 

2. 50 Things to Do Before You Are 11¾

The National Trust are very concerned that children are not spending as much time outdoors as they used to, and as a result they are failing to connect with nature. So they have devised the 50 Things to Do Before You Are 11¾ Challenge, which is a list of 50 fun outdoors family activities for young children.

Sign up for free on the 50 Things website and you can tick off each activity as you complete it – there are rewards for children that complete all the activities.

 

3. Geocaching

Geocaching is like a giant treasure hunt which takes place all over the world.  Sign on at the Geocaching website, grab a GPS device and you can set off on all manner of adventures.

Some of them are very simple, others are trickier, but you can choose the difficulty before you start.

Be warned though, this form of family activities can get extremely addictive, and before you know it you will be a seasoned adventurer – but watch out for Muggles!

 

4. Swimming

Swimming is one of the family activities that you can easily do. Many local swimming pools have swimming lessons for children and adults, or you can just go and splash about, which most children will very much enjoy.

You can find details of your local swimming pools and tips and advice for swimmers of all levels from Swimming.org or on the Simply Swim blog.

But why restrict yourself to indoor pools in this hot weather?  There are an increasing number of outdoor lido pools that you can discover, and what about rivers, lakes, or, dare I say it, the sea….

Make sure that you are aware of local safety guidelines if you are swimming outdoors.  It is always preferable to find a place where lifeguards are on duty, especially if you are swimming with children.
The Outdoor Swimming Society  will tell you everything you need to know about safe and fun places to swim in the open air.

5. Pack a Picnic

Why not get your children to help you put together a huge feast of healthy food, then take it out into the open air for a picnic?  You can walk or cycle together out to a local beauty spot, and enjoy the freedom of eating outdoors. That’s got to be one of the simplest and best familiy activities.

Here are some ideas for picnic snacks – what would you pack?

 

6. Learn a New Sport

With the Commonwealth Games here, what better time for you and your children to get out there and try a sport that you have never done before?

On our recent trip to Center Parcs, my children tried quad biking and kayaking, and my husband joined them in a fencing lesson.  What family activities would you try?

Sport England has many tips and resources for helping you and your children to give sport a go. And if you don’t fancy learning the rules of a new sport but just want to help to keep your kids active, then take a look at KidsRunFree, an organisation which put on regular running events for children of all ages.

How to keep your children healthy and active this ummer

 

7. Take a Look Around You

Maybe the idea of sport leaves you cold.  Are you more of a history buff?  In which case why not gather up the family and take them to visit some places of interest, historical monuments, castles and stately homes.

Take a look at The National Trust, English Heritage or Historic Royal Palaces  for some ideas on where to go.  If you need some extra exercise pick a site that is on a steep hill, or a building with a high tower that you can climb. The steps will get your heart rate pounding and the view will be worth the effort at the end.

Personally I love family activities which combine both physical and mental effort. Healthy body, healthy mind and all that…

 

8. Grow, Cook Eat

Of course you don’t even have to leave your own home in order to get some extra activity over the summer.  Why not get the children involved in clearing a little vegetable patch, and planting and growing some healthy food to eat over the summer?

You can do this in your own back garden or you can see if there are any allotments available in your area.  The National Allotment Society has all sorts of advice about planning and keeping allotments and vegetable gardens in general including specific advice on how to plan an allotment for children.

The joy of family activities like these is that not only to you get to have exercise and outdoors time tending your garden, but you also get the benefit of lots of yummy fruit and veg so you can eat more healthily too.

 

9. Give something back to Nature

If you want to make a difference this summer, then one way you and your family could do it is by finding a local conservation project and going along to help. That’s one of the more worthwile family activities because you’re leaving a legacy for others.

Natural England has detail of many local nature reserves, National Parks, Country Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.  Go along and visit a few and you may find a project going on that needs a helping hand or two, or a summer scheme designed to get children more involved with the natural world.

 

10. Play Indoors

Of course the best laid plans of the English summer don’t always work out and there will be one or two days (hopefully not more) when even the idea of going outside just doesn’t appeal.  Some children will enjoy putting a tent up and having a dry den in the garden even when it is raining but others will probably retreat into their video games, and who could blame them?

On days like these if you can’t beat them, why not join them?  Many of today’s video games do involve a substantial amount of activity, particularly the ones that are themed around sport or dancing.  So challenge your children to a day of indoor sports and give them the satisfaction of beating mummy at tennis, bowling or disco dancing (or not, depending on just how competitive you are)….

So there you have it – 10 ideas for family activities to keep you and your children healthy and active over the summer.  Please leave a comment if you try any of these family activities out and tell us how you found them – and if you have any more recommendations for things that work for your family then let us know.

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