Family fitness? It’s all about finding the right activities

The UK has now been in lockdown for some time and while you may be keeping up with your own fitness routine, keeping your wider family and friendship group active can be difficult.

In order to make exercise part of everyone’s lockdown life, it’s important to choose age appropriate ideas that are fun and accessible. To help, here are a few suggestions of activities by specific age group.

Seniors

Tai Chi

This ancient Chinese martial art combines relaxation and deep breathing with careful flowing movements. It is ideal for seniors as research suggests it improves mobility, decreases stress and also supports a strong posture. Not much room is required meaning anyone can take part anywhere, but it is a lovely excuse to get outside for practise too.

As it is a low impact exercise, it doesn’t put excess strain on joints which makes it the perfect gentle form of fitness for the older generations. Why not send some Tai Chi moves to your older relations and challenge them to give it a go?

Gardening

Getting outside is a great idea if the weather is fine, as exposure to fresh air and a boost in vitamin D is great for all of us. But did you know that going out to do some gentle gardening is also a great form of exercise? In fact, one hour of gardening can burn between 200-400 calories.

Why not order some seeds for older friends or relatives as a gift? As well as showing them you are thinking of them, it also might end up giving their green fingers (and the rest of their body) a workout.

Daily walks

Now is a great time to discover the beauty that’s just beyond your front door. Why not dig out a map and help an older person you know to plan different routes around their neighbourhood? To add a new element of interest, you could even ask them to report back on what nature they spot along the way.

Walks are a great low impact activity and according to Age UK, just 15 minutes a day can help decrease our risk of type 2 diabetes, dementia and cancer while helping to keep bones strong and spirits lifted.

Virtual tours

For seniors shielding and not able to venture outdoors, another option may be to make use of many virtual tours of stately homes, gardens, parks and attractions that are currently being shown online. Walking on the spot while taking a virtual trip around a fascinating spot may be just the ticket for physical and mental stimulation.

Teens

Make it competitive

Many teens love a challenge, especially when it comes to challenging Mum and Dad, so why not use this to your advantage?

Maybe you love to run or lift weights, so challenge your teen to see if they can keep up. Then switch to one of their favourite exercises and see if you can give them a run for their money. You could even make it more interesting by introducing a forfeit for the loser – who knows, they could end up owing you washing-up!

Provide purpose

Some teens struggle to see the point of exercise, so by creating a purpose you can encourage them to move more.

Maybe they could take a walk to post a letter or earn some screen time or pocket money by cleaning windows or pulling up weeds. Once they start to see how much better they feel for moving a little each day, they may even catch the fitness bug themselves and offer to take on more jobs? OK, maybe not – but it’s worth a shot!

Retro gaming favourites

Although many modern games consoles encourage sedentary play, why not dig out some old classics to get your teens moving? Whether it’s Wii Fit or even a retro dance mat, some of these older games provide a bit of nostalgia that can get your teen joining in with fun for all the family.

Kids 

Make learning physical

By setting up a simple grid pattern in pavement chalk, you could create a life size board game for your little ones.

Quiz them on a chosen subject and for every right answer they can take a step forwards. Attribute certain moves to certain squares for example 10 jumping jacks or hopping on one leg for 30 seconds. Not only is this a fun way of learning, it keeps brains and bodies active at the same time. Win, win!

Tournament time

Kids love playing games, so why not root around the garden shed and devise an at-home Olympics for your kids? Even simple toys can make the basis for hours of fun. Who can do the most hula hoops in a row? Who can keep bouncing the ball for the longest time? Introduce small prizes along the way to keep everyone engaged and prepare for some tuckered out tots by the end of the day.

Work them into your work outs

One thing kids love is joining in with Mum and Dad so think creatively about how you can make this happen.

They may not be able to keep up with your cardio workout but could they join you on their bikes for your daily jog? Or perhaps they could boogie along to your Zumba practise? They may not know all the moves but they will love being part of your fitness routine. What a great way to lead by example too!

Not ever exercise suits ever body or ever age – what’s great for you might be too demanding or boring for others in your family. But there are so many solutions out there, especially with a bit of imagination. By looking at activity with the rest of your family in mind, you can ensure your whole household is making movement a bigger part of their lockdown life and having fun at the same time.

Share your thoughts