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Get the whole family working off the ‘school holiday spread’ with these genius summer activities
f your jeans are feeling a tad snug since the kids broke up from school and you can’t fail to notice your little ones running out of puff at the park (a study suggests children actually gain weight over the summer break), you’d jump at the chance of doing activities that burned calories, entertained everyone and didn’t involve hours at the gym, right? Well, good news: we’ve found fun-packed ways to get bums off sofas…
If you and your children are competent swimmers and you’re looking for more of a challenge than your local chlorine-filled pool, you might fancy dipping your toe into wild swimming. Taking the plunge in ponds, lakes and rivers around the UK† is big news – and it offers all the benefits of pool swimming, such as helping to improve cardiovascular fitness while being gentle on joints. Daniel Start, author of Wild Swimming*, shares his top spots: ‘Try Shilley Pool in Devon, a mini waterfall with a pool that’s never more than a metre or so deep. Or in Yorkshire, head for the River Wharfe at Bolton Abbey – there are stepping stones, a beach and a ruined priory. Both are safe places for youngsters to build confidence.’
Don’t forget to protect the family’s peepers from murky water with New Speedo Junior Futura Biofuse Goggles, £18/1,800 points (for 16yrs+), or New Zoggs Little Sonic Air Goggles, £10/1,000 points (for 1-6yrs), for younger adventurers. (And, of course, never leave children on their own in or near water.)
First and foremost, it’s about fun – if kids are having a good time, they’ll want to exercise! You don’t have to do press-ups to keep fit
So, you and your kids have read the Harry Potter books and seen the movies, and now you can visit the London film locations – and yes, you guessed it, burn calories at the same time. Highlights of a self-guided tour (download free at the-magician.co.uk) include a stroll along Diagon Alley, magic-themed challenges, and the entrance to Platform Nine-And-Three-Quarters at King’s Cross station. You’ll be well on your way to reaching the recommended 10,000 steps a day after walking the whole route. Keep Nakd Cocoa Delight and Cashew Cookie Bars (each is 99p/99 points for 35g), up your sleeve to boost Muggles’ flagging energy levels.
Back to the old skool
Add some extra fun to a day at the park by holding your own retro sports competition. As well as being enjoyable, the workout potential is impressive: skipping with a rope for 30 minutes could burn up to 400 calories, while a three-legged race helps to hone your balance and core strength, and the egg-and-spoon race can improve hand-eye co-ordination. Wow.
Top London personal trainer Hilary Burbidge says: ‘First and foremost, it’s important to have fun: if kids are having a good time, they’ll want to exercise! You don’t have to make children do press-ups to keep them fit; anything that makes them run, jump, increase their heart rate and get a bit sweaty is a good workout in my book.’ We suggest investing in the New ELC Egg & Spoon Race set, £7/700 points (for 2yrs+) – the ‘egg’ is plastic, so you won’t make a mess!
If your children are forcing you to watch Frozen with them for the umpteenth time, you might as well sneak in some calorie burn for your efforts! You can also try this game with everything from The Lion King to Mary Poppins: any time the characters break into song, you stand up and do star jumps for the duration of the ditty. Sound too easy to have any real benefits? Actually, several short bursts of activity throughout the day can be as effective as a gym workout – just make sure they add up to 30 minutes in total.
Every time characters from their favourite Disney film break into song, stand up and do star jumps for the duration of the ditty
Love your weekend run? Come the holidays, let the kids gate-crash! Training for a family fun-run is an ideal way to encourage your children to keep fit and can also help get you out when your motivation slumps. We rate the nationwide Color Run UK**, also known as the ‘happiest 5k on the planet’. It features paint bombs, banging tunes and glitter cannons – what’s not to love? Go to thecolorrun.co.uk to find your nearest event. And don’t forget something to capture the LOLs on race day: the Nikon Coolpix AW130 in Black is shock-proof, waterproof and dust-proof. Making memories and getting thighs of steel – double win. For help with training, check out parkrun.org.uk, which holds free, timed 5k runs for grown-ups and 2km versions for kids all over the UK.
Bounce away the wobble
Another day spent at the kids’ trampoline and soft play centre – so far, so stressful. But instead of nervously surveying your little monkeys from the café, why not jump on with them? ‘Trampolining works your whole body, not just your legs,’ says Julia Balaz, owner of Jumping Julia Fitness. ‘But the best thing is that it doesn’t feel like exercise. Even on a trampoline at home you can try jumping jacks, squats and bouncing on your toes to really ramp up the workout.’
Look for an indoor centre near you, such as Bounce in Milton Keynes – it’s for adults and children – or make like Tigger in your garden with the Plum Magnitude 10ft Trampoline And Enclosure Boots.com only £289.99/28,999 points (for 6yrs+). Just 10 minutes of bouncing should get everyone’s blood pumping – and you’ll have a good giggle, too!
Head to a ‘pick your own’ fruit farm and not only will the kids collect handfuls of their five-a-day, but your thighs will burn like you’ve done a spin session. Why? It’s all that squatting to pick the low-hanging fruit. Keep your back straight, bend from the knees and suck in your tummy to work your core. Don’t forget to slather on the SPF and get everyone wearing hats (try Mini Club Straw Hat, £7/700 points; for 7mths-6yrs). And remember to protect your eyes: pop into your local Boots Opticians and take a look at the great range of sunglasses.
Feeling inspired? Good. Now it’s time to ditch the iPad and video games, and get stuck into a summer of fitness fun. Last one to the trampoline is a loser!
†Check for places that are appropriate for wild swimming and any local guidance. *Wild Swimming by Daniel Start (Wild Things Publishing, £16.99). **Presented by Skittles