Fit for the whole family

If exercise has become a chore, it’s time to think out of the box
By Tamlyn Vincent

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Some people love it and for others it somehow always manages to fall to the bottom of the to-do list, but exercise is an important part of life. The physical benefits aside, regular exercise helps with brain development and functionality, says Simon McQueen, who runs an extramural movement programme in Cape Town. But if you loathe the idea of lacing up your running shoes or find sweating it out on the stationery bike endlessly boring, then consider trying one of these family-friendly activities.
You may think the trampoline is there solely for your children’s enjoyment, but it’s in fact one of the best forms of exercise you can do. Studies have shown that 10 minutes spent jumping on a trampoline burns the same number of calories as a 30-minute jog. And unlike running, trampolining is a low-impact exercise, meaning you’re not putting your joints under too much strain. It also works every part of the body. For children, it is a fun way to boost fitness levels and it helps to improve balance and flexibility. Either invest in a trampoline at home or take the family to your nearest trampoline park, many of which offer fitness classes.
Rollerblading was all the rage in the ‘90s and it seems to be making a comeback with more and more rollerbladers flocking to parks and promenades, and a number of indoor skate rinks opening for business. There are even Facebook groups dedicated to rollerblading! If you want to improve balance and co-ordination while burning fat, it’s a great choice – just make sure you wear a helmet, especially if you’re a beginner.
With stress plaguing our society and even affecting our children, yoga has become an increasingly popular past-time. Considered a moving meditation, yoga helps you to ground your energy and shift your focus away from the stress of the day. It also helps to improve balance, co-ordination, strength and flexibility in a non-comeptitive environment. If you can’t afford to practice at a studio, search online for some basic yoga postures to try at home. Also be on the look out for free yoga sessions in public spaces like parks and beaches.
Indoor rock climbing
Rock climbing, even in an indoor climbing gym, is a total adrenaline rush and offers myriad phyiscal benefits, namely improving cardiovascular fitness and upper body strength. Climbing is also a good mental workout as you need to practice your problem-solving skills in order to navigate your way up the wall. Being a supervised indoor activity, it’s safe for the whole family to try and you don’t need any of the expensive equipment required for real mountaineering.
Stand-Up-paddleboarding (SUP)
What was once just a fun holiday activity, has become the latest fitness craze. Stand-up Paddleboarding offers a total body workout and is particularly good for anyone wanting to strengthen their core. Hire a board at your local sports or surf shop, or join a group class – you’ll be hooked after your first session. Parents can also take their children along, letting them ride on the back of the board. Just make sure they are wearing a life jacket.
Keep at it
When it comes to being active, children who feel like they are part of the decision-making are more likely to keep up the habit. McQueen suggests some ways to keep them motivated:
  • Add active pursuits to events where you would usually be sedentary. Try a short hike before brunch or walk for five minutes before sitting down for a picnic on the beach or in the park.
  • If you live close to your child’s school, walk or ride there.
  • Have a family dance party instead of movie or game night.
  • Join in your local park run so children can enjoy some fresh air and a sense of community.
  • Take the competition out of exercise. Encourage participation rather than results. Children will be more inclined to stay motivated if they don’t feel burdened by expectations.

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