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Stay active as a family with expert tips on keeping fit together

Make fitness part of your family routine

As the success of Joe Wicks’ PE With Joe demonstrated, family fitness is most effective when it’s part of your routine. Dr Samantha Wild, women’s health clinical lead and primary care physician at Bupa UK, agrees. “Being active will come easily if it’s part of everyday life and can be easily incorporated through small changes to your daily routine,” she says. “Could you walk or cycle part of the school run together? Even opting for the stairs rather than getting the lift will help to keep you and your family active. A family swimming session – perhaps after school or on a Saturday morning – can be especially useful because of its wide range of health benefits. Being in the pool improves heart, lung and muscle health for both adults and children, and it doesn’t always have to be an exercise session – even just playing with inflatables can make an impact.”

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Find the fun in staying fit

Teach your kids that exercise can be fun, not a chore, and get outdoors whatever the weather. “Spring and summer are the perfect times to visit outdoor pools and parks, and to organise sports days with friends,” says Dr Wild. “Gardening with the family is a great form of exercise as it’s both aerobic and strengthening. In autumn, make the most of your local green space to hunt for conkers or try the seasonal fun of picking fruit and vegetables, such as pumpkins for Halloween. On snowy winter days, go sledging in the park or ice skating – both of which improve balance and movement. Dancing is a fun year-round activity and is a good way for your child to strengthen their growing bones from the comfort of your home. Simply pump up the music and turn your living room into a dancefloor! Together, you can bop away to all your favourite tunes – while also increasing your heart rate and improving your fitness levels.”

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Embrace the mood-boosting benefits of exercise

Exercise is clearly important for children; the NHS recommends that those between five and 18 aim for at least an hour’s moderate exercise a day and avoid long periods of sitting or lying down (easier said than done with teens, we know!). However, we all want to avoid creating stress or pressure around the need to exercise, particularly if it’s linked to weight. “When talking to your child about exercise and staying active, focus on the positives, such as healthy bones, strong muscles and the feelgood vibe you get after exercising,” advises Dr Wild. “Ask your child which activities they enjoy and do these together. This could be anything from walking the dog or dancing in the kitchen to playing in the park. Just like you, your child is more likely to keep up forms of activity that they enjoy and are excited about.”

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Words: Sophie Hines

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