get active

Being active is very important for our family, not least because our little boy would cause chaos in the house if we didn’t get out and about and use up all that energy he seems to steal from me!

Active body means an active mind

We try and stay active both indoors and outdoors, the weather needn’t stop you these days. The most important thing to remember is that kids love physical exercise, whether on their own or in a group. It’s not only great for developing them physically, particularly improving co-ordination, but an active body also helps promote an active mind. This means that keeping them fit can help concentration and learning at school. Getting this into outside play also means they are less likely to veg in front of the TV; something I try to avoid.

Be prepared

For our family, the most important thing is to be prepared to get active whatever you are up to.

Wherever we go, we always throw a football, a tennis ball, the Frisbee, and even the cricket set in the back of the car. This means that we can always find something to keep the children on the move.

In addition, we have roof bars on our car. This makes it incredibly easy just to grab our bikes, and take them when we go out. More importantly, if we holiday in the UK we can take them with us, so there is always entertainment easily on hand at the campsite or cottage we end up at. If you brave crossing the channel, you have them for use in France and Europe which can be an amazing experience for the children as well.

In this technology-focused world, it is easy to lose sight of how important it is to get kids playing real games as a team. They might play football and cycle on the Wii, but that’s not the same as learning to be part of a team in the real world. For both of our children, we encourage activities in after school clubs as well. Schools in the UK to a wonderful job of providing extracurricular activities at minimal cost. For example, my son plays football, and my daughter is an avid gymnast.

Swimming; it’s a life skill worth learning early

Don’t forget that learning to swim is also an important life school for any child to have, so it’s worth investing in the time and energy to teach your children from an early age. At the very least, it’s helpful for them to feel comfortable, and un-afraid in water. Both mine have been in swimming pools since they were six months, and now at ages five and seven, they are more than competent in all the main strokes. My daughter is even learning how to swim butterfly, which is one step ahead of me!

With the English weather, it can be hard to get outside, and we may feel that learning to swim is actually something we could do just by stepping out the front door! Soft play centres are a great place to run about while the English weather does its usual. If you can find a clean, friendly one, that serves something other than chips; use it as a bolt hole in bad weather. Your kids can run about even with grey skies.

Even better, just put them in their wellies, and a splash-coat, and go jump in the muddy puddles outside together!

How do you get active together as a family?  We would love to hear what activities you all take part in.  Please leave a message for us in the comments below.

Note: this article first appeared on the Yahoo Contribution Network, authored by Helen Neale. It has been reproduced by permission of the site, where it is no longer available.