The summer holidays are over. It is back to work, back to school, and back to routine. And after a hard day’s work, who wants to lace up their running shoes or hit the gym? The thought of collapsing in front of the TV with the rest of the family seems like so much more of a tempting idea. However, getting active does not have to be dull, tedious and boring. There are fun and sneaky ways to get the whole family to meet their quota while also spending quality time together.
We chatted to Durban-based biokineticist, Schalk van der Merwe, who has ten years experience in the field, and asked what fun activities he would recommend for families looking at getting active without the effort.
Cricket madness has swept the country. So why not join in on the fun by rounding up the whole family for a game in the park or on the beach? And if the thought of wholesome family fun in the sun does not entice you already, there are several other perks to motivate you to break out the cricket gear. -A game of cricket serves as a good form of exercise and everybody, from any age group, can participate, says van der Merwe. He explains that cricket is a low intensity cardio vascular exercise that can be enjoyed by the whole family. -It improves fitness, teaches co-ordination and it is a fun outdoor activity. And, according to van der Merwe, a minimum of 30 minutes could already be beneficial to the whole family.
Finish those chores
Mopping the floor, mowing the lawn and washing the cars do not have to be boring chores, they can double up as a fun way for the whole family to get active. Van der Merwe suggests that families make a game out of the chore. For example, if there are cars to wash or floors to mop, why not split the family up and see who can wash the car the quickest?
Walking the dogs is another great form of exercise, as it is low-impact cardiovascular exercise. The key is, whether you are cleaning the house or walking Fido, to do at least 30 minutes and to it at an intensity that gets your heart rate up.
Take a hike
Hiking is a great way to get out into the fresh air, get active and forget about the daily grind of modern living. And it is something you can do as a family. -Hiking is good for cardiovascular fitness, says van der Merwe. -It is also a good form of light, weight bearing exercise and it improves muscle tone, bone density and it lowers blood pressure and stress.
There are many exciting trails around the country for people of all fitness levels and often, there are groups that meet on a weekly basis to go hiking. Check your local paper for details and get the whole family to join in on the adventure.
Break out the bikes
Bike riding is another fun way for families to get fit. -It does not have to be serious cycling to have benefits, says van der Merwe. -Just getting onto a bike and pedaling immediately ups your heart rate. He adds that bike riding strengthens leg muscles, improves cardiovascular fitness, and lowers blood pressure, blood sugar levels and cholesterol. -An activity like cycling is also good for children because it is a non-weight-bearing activity and it strengthens their muscles and tendons that are forming.
Go horse riding
There is something so adventurous about horse riding, especially when it’s on a trail. Plus, it’s a great activity for the whole family to enjoy and you need not be the most experienced rider to experience the benefits.
-When you ride a horse, it works on your core and, if done on a regular basis, it helps to strengthen certain muscles, says van der Merwe. -It will also elevate your heart rate, which is good for fitness and which helps to relieve stress. In addition to this, van der Merwe says that horse riding teaches co-ordination, which is good for kids and for adults.
Haul out the Wii
TV games are not exactly applauded for their contribution to increasing activity levels in children. However the Wii has demolished that image by introducing motion sensor controllers. Because the controller relies on body movement to enhance gameplay, this is a great way to get the family up and off the couch.
-Instead of sitting on the couch playing games, you are up and moving around, and this elevates your heart rate, explains van der Merwe. -Any activity where you are moving is good.
These are just a few ideas on how to increase activity levels and to still spend quality time with the whole family. However, there are many other exciting activities to do. So get creative and think of other fun things for the family to do.
The key, according to van der Merwe, is to move around. This will increase activity levels and will have numerous health benefits. Van der Merwe also recommends families wanting to stay active to incorporate three to five of these activities into their week for ultimate results.
It’s always advised that before embarking upon an exercise regime, families consult their doctor or biokineticist.