School’s out, kids are excited, and the summer break is a great opportunity to get outdoors and get in some active hours (weather permitting of course!)
Did you know that children and young people should aim to be physically active for at least 60 minutes a day? And for adults its 150 minutes a week*. It’s easy to see why activity is recommended because being physically active:
- Builds confidence and social skills
- Develops co-ordination
- Strengthens muscles and bones
- Improves concentration and learning
- Improves health and fitness
- Maintains healthy weight
- Improves sleep
- Makes you feel good.
Motivating kids away from screen time can be a challenge but we’ve come up with plenty of ideas to make it fun, some that I used to do as a child, and you can get friends and family involved too. Give one a go!
1. Let loose in the garden
Build your own obstacle course with objects you can find lying around, then time each other to see how quickly you can complete it. Or try creating your own scavenger hunt, write down different items to collect or spot around the garden.
2. Go running
Every Saturday runners gather in green spaces for their local parkrun. A free 5k run organised by volunteers which welcomes participants of all abilities. Some places offer a smaller 2k course for four to 14 year olds. You can even see your results online and track them over the summer.
3. Join a green gym
Green gyms are free outdoor sessions, Run by The Conservation Volunteers, where you take part in activities such as planting trees, sowing meadows and establishing wildlife ponds. The emphasis in these conservation projects is on health and fitness – you warm up and cool down in preparation for a range of activities to suit all abilities. You’ll be exercising and making a difference simultaneously.
4. Try geocaching
Geocaching is a treasure hunt, free to join, with a techie element for those who love their devices. Visit geocaching.com and centre the map on your home or a beauty spot – with 2.5million caches hidden by members worldwide there is certainly one near you. Select a couple of caches, jot down the details, grab your GPS (or GPS-enabled phone) and off you go.
5. Get on your bike
Find your local cycling routes, try looking on your council website or simply google cycle paths in your area. Forestry England and National Trust also offer cycle trails and many centres have bike hire facilities so you don’t have to worry about transport or equipment.
6. Visit your local park
There are some great walking or cycling trails you can follow for free. Why not take a picnic as a treat at the end of your exercise? Or simply go for an after dinner stroll? Some parks even have an outdoor gym. Again, take a look at your council website to see what’s available – some will run free events like butterfly counts, scavenger hunts and pond dipping for the little ones.
7. Head to the coast or the hills
If you live or are holidaying near the coast or countryside grab a frisbee, football, or volleyball and have some fun running and catching on the beach. Or just simply go for a beach walk and take in the sights. If you’re feeling particularly brave, take a dip in the ocean.
8. Jump in the pool
There are plenty of local swimming pools or lidos to visit. If you fancy a swim go and check them out, some offer kids sessions in the summer with fun activities and inflatables.
9. Go climbing
Climbing strengthens muscles, boosts conﬁdence and teaches vital risk assessment skills. Many rock climbers describe routes as ‘puzzles’ so the activity is intellectually challenging too. If the trees in your local park are off-limits, try a climbing wall, or even a tree-top adventure such as Go Ape.
Trampoline parks are springing up all over the UK, there's bound to be one near you. Sessions can be popular though so you make sure you book ahead.
Most importantly we hope you enjoy spending time together and have a great summer!
If your active days out give you a taste for exercise, keep the good times rolling by incorporating into your daily routine when the kids go back to school.
*UK Chief Medical Officers’ Guidelines 2011 Start Active, Stay Active
What is your favourite way to stay active? Keep up to date with our latest news and blogs on Twitter @Parentkind.
Our blog is a place for a range of opinions and debate on parents and their role in their schools and their children’s education. Whilst we think this debate is really important, we don’t always agree with the views being expressed.