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Get fit with the family

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A mum running with her daughter and son

Experts say that exercising for just 30 minutes a day could help you live up to five years longer, so now's the time to get all the family involved!

Getting fit doesn't mean you have to go to the gym or join your local hockey team. We've got loads of fun and easy ways to keep you and your family active that you'll all enjoy whatever your fitness levels, from swimming to playing in the park with the kids.



The park is a great place for the whole family to have fun and get fit - and it's free!

Children can spend hours running around on their own making up games, so
often, just getting them out in the park is all you need to do. As you
all walk round, you'll be getting your heart pumping and toning your
legs as you go.

There are loads of games you can all play together as well. Football,
rounders, tag, stuck in the mud and hide and seek are all really easy
games you can play with little organising. Your kids will probably have
their favourites they play at school, so ask them to come up with ideas
as well.

Why it's so good for us Playing games together in the park will
give you all an aerobic workout, lots of fresh air and will help you
keep slim or lose weight. Ball games will also help the kids'
co-ordination
How hard is it? Easy
How long should you do it for? Go to the park every weekend for a few hours.

Swimming is fun, good for you and you can make it into a day out for the whole family.

Babies
Children from as young as three months old can take part in family
swimming trips. In fact, it's the little ones who can't crawl or walk
yet who get the most benefit from it! The water supports their bodies
giving them the freedom to move their arms and legs in a way they can't
on land. It helps them develop good co-ordination and as anyone who's
ever taken a baby swimming knows, most of them love it, too.

It's best to sign up for baby swimming classes with very young ones.

Primary school age children
Older children also get loads of benefits from swimming. Although they
may not be swimming up and down in lanes, all the splashing about is
great aerobic exercise, treading water is good for building up all-over
muscle strength and it's always good for your kids to be good swimmers
so they are safe near water.

There are also lots of games you can play with the family. You could
take it in turns to fetch things from the bottom of the pool. Ask the
lifeguards on duty if they have any bricks they use in classes that you
can borrow. You could also have races, see who's best at balancing on a
swimming pool float or find out who can hold their breath the longest
under water.

You and dad
To keep fit it's important to keep moving about in the water. You could
take it in turns to keep an eye on the kids while one of you swims up
and down the length of the pool. To benefit your whole body, switch
between front crawl, breast stroke and back stroke.

Treading water is great aerobic exercise and will tone and strengthen
your legs muscles. To get rid of your bingo wings,
try swimming with a pool float in between your legs. This will make
your arms work harder, tightening up those baggy underneath bits.

  • You may want to check with your health visitor if your baby's been ill
or hasn't had their vaccinations.

Why's it so good for us? Swimming increases your lung capacity,
gets you loads of aerobic exercise (which can help you lose weight and
keep your heart healthy), helps tone your body all over and keeps your
joints healthy while you exercise. Being in the water can also give you
all a sense of well being, too.
How hard is it? Moderate.
How long should you do it for? Once a week for about 45 minutes.
Very little ones shouldn't be in the water for longer than 30 minutes,
though. Take any child out of the water if they start shivering and wrap
them up warm

Walking is a simple but effective exercise and improves aerobic fitness and overall health.

If done regularly it could help to lessen your chances of getting cancer, heart disease and even catching a cold.
It's also a great way to keep weight off and lift your mood, so aim to
walk for 30 minutes five to seven times a week to gain all the benefits.
Take the kids to the local park, countryside or nature reserve. They
might enjoy spotting the wildlife plus the exercise and fresh air will
do them good.

Find the best routes, parks and open spaces for walking near you:
www.ramblers.org.uk and click on 'discover your region'
Or find your local nature reserve: www.naturalengland.org.uk or www.wildlifetrusts.org

Why's it so good for us?A brisk walk gets your heart going which
makes it stronger. You can also tone up your legs and lose weight if
you're walking most days. It also gets the family out in the fresh air
and away from the TV
How hard is it? Easy
How long should I do it for? 30 mins five times a week.

Running's great for everyone and it's easy to start even if you're not a sporty family.

The idea of going for a run as a family may be a little intimidating if
jogging's not part of your exercise regime (and especially if you don't have
an exercise regime!). But once you get into the swing of it, you'll be
hooked.

Kit your family out with decent trainers - make sure you buy running
shoes, not fashion trainers - from a sport shop that has trained staff
who'll be able to help you choose the right pair.

You need to stretch thoroughly before and after jogging to stop getting
injured and to help ease aches the next day.

Why it's so good for us Jogging is free, great aerobic exercise and can help you lose weight and tone up
How hard is it? Moderate
How long should you do it for? 30 minutes three times a week.

A family bike ride will get all of you out in the fresh air and will help you keep fit.

There are loads of safe cycle paths and events around the country where kids of all ages can get on their bikes.

Or, if you're all confident cyclists, you can take to the roads and visit some local nature spots, parks or beaches.

Don't forget to kit everyone out with cycling helmets and elbow and knee pads for nervous youngsters.

Cycle paths in and around London
Loads of national cycle paths and events

Why it's so good for us Cycling tones your legs and tummy, is great for weight loss and gets the whole family out in the fresh air
How hard is it? Moderate
How long should you do it for? A bike ride for a few hours every weekend.

If you've been hooked on Dancing on Ice, why not give it a go yourself?

Ice skating is a great cardiovascular workout, it works thigh and calf
muscles and most importantly it's fun for both kids and adults alike.
You can skate and enjoy the winter air at an outdoor rink, or keep warm
indoors.

Find your nearest rink and more information at www.iceskating.org.uk.

Why it's so good for us You use loads of different muscles in
your legs when you go ice-skating, it's great for your balance and gives
you a good cardiac workout.
How hard is it? Moderate
How long should I do it for? 30 mins, or three 10-min sessions.

Skiing is great for toning the body, working the lungs and heart and strengthens your leg muscles too.

Remember to warm up and have some proper training before you and your
family take to the slopes to reduce the risk of injury. The UK is full
of dry ski slopes, so find you nearest one at www.snowlifeorg.uk.

Why it's so good for us All the twisting and turning of skiing
works your tummy muscles really hard and the crouching is fantastic for
your thigh muscles
How hard is it? Moderate
How long should I do it for? 30 mins.

Strictly Come Dancing has made ballroom dancing popular all over again and got us all glued to the telly.

Dancing is a great way for you and a partner to exercise and gain
self-confidence. Try Salsa as it's good exercise and it will improve
your co-ordination. First find out which type of dance (salsa, ballroom,
jazz, street, tap, Latin...) would most suit you and go for it! There
are also loads of classes out there for the kids, too. So the whole
family can get involved.

Visit www.uk-ballroom.co.uk for your local ballroom dancing classes.

Why it's so good for us You'll tone muscles you never knew you had and if you're doing fast dancing you'll get a great aerobic workout too
How hard is it? Moderate
How long should I do it for? 45 mins.

Trampolining isn't just for kids, it has many health benefits.


It's a low-impact exercise and because you don't lock your joints when
you bounce, you're less likely to damage them. As well as speeding up
your pulse rate, which makes your heart work harder and become stronger,
it improves bone density and can help prevent osteoporosis.

You can find a trampolining class near you at: www.trampolining-online.co.uk or if you want to buy one for your own home, visit www.bouncyhappypeople.co.uk where you can buy a mini exercise trampoline for £37.95.

Why it's so good for us It'll give you a fabulous aerobic workout and will strengthen and tone your legs
How hard is it? Moderate
How long should I do it for? 10 mins a day, or a 30-min class.

Hula hooping works your stomach, hips and bottom, but you can also learn how to tone up your body, arms and legs too.


Hula will also raise your pulse, exercising your heart and improving
your overall fitness and the best thing is, anyone can do it, almost
anywhere! Get yourself a weighted hula hoop specially designed for
exercise from www.thehoolahoopco.co.uk find yourself a class at Virgin Active's health clubs www.virginactive.co.uk or check with your local leisure centre.

Continued below...


Why it's so good for us All the wiggling is a great aerobic workout and the twisting and turning helps you tone up
How hard is it? Moderate
How long should I do it for? 20 mins.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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