School's out! Get active as a family during the summer break
Do you have trouble getting your child away from the TV during the summer holidays? Or are they bursting with energy and you don’t know how to keep them occupied? Here are some ideas from NHS Blackburn with Darwen and East Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) on how to be active as a whole family this summer.
It is recommended that all children aged five and over should have at least one hour of physical activity a day. This helps children grow stronger muscles and bones, maintain a healthy weight and build their confidence. One hour a day can easily be incorporated into family life and can be a great away to spend time together.
Cycling is not only a fun and healthy way to spend time with your child, it’s also one of the easiest ways to get your child to be more active. Cycling has many benefits for children such as improved health, confidence and concentration. Cycling causes less strain and injuries than most other forms of exercise and most people know how to ride a bike because once you learn, you don’t forget!
But with any fun activity there can be knocks and bumps. There are things you can do to help keep them safe. Make sure they wear a well-fitted helmet that meets the British Standards. This will protect your child’s head should they take a tumble.
Another free and easy activity to do as a family is to put on your walking shoes and head out. Walking is a great chance to boost your energy, clear your head and lift your mood. To help keep your children engaged you could make a list of trees, plants and insects that they have to identify along the way.
There are also plenty of great phone apps that can track your walking and motivate you to get out every day, such as Active 10 which encourages you to walk continuously for at least 10 minutes.
Start your walk slowly and gradually build up your pace. Your speed should be more than a stroll but if you find it difficult, don’t overdo it- especially on the first walk. Try walking more quickly for a couple of minutes at a time and building your fitness gradually.
To help give you more ideas for active days out, the National Parks website has lists of guided walks and children’s fun days to enjoy the outdoors.
Building a den
Alternatively, you can go to your nearest woodlands and build a den together. This activity always captures the imagination of youngsters and allows them to problem solve and be creative. But make sure that you are supervising them at all times to prevent injuries from falling branches or from lifting heavy objects. And remember to wash hands with soap and water if you’re planning a picnic afterwards.
When playing in the woods or heath areas, it is good to be aware of insects such as ticks. These bite and can spread Lyme disease which can cause serious health problems. Make sure your children wear long sleeves/trousers and keep an eye out for symptoms afterwards in case they have been bitten.
How about you reach to the back of the garden shed and grab your kite? Kite flying on a breezy day can keep children and big kids active for hours. For keen flyers, The Kite Society of Great Britain has local groups that meet for special days where more experienced flyers can give advice. Some groups even offer kite-making workshops.
Trip to the beach
In the summer it’s hard to resist a weekend trip to the coast to enjoy a dip in the water. The beach offers so many great ways to be active as a family including games, playing the in the sand, swimming, rock-pooling and generally running around.
But of course, make sure that you are prepared for the sun by taking appropriate cover such as a parasol, stay out of the sun between 11am and 3 pm and apply sun cream regularly.
You can find more advice on getting active as a family on the Change4Life website