Never too old to play

By Susan Edmunds

Families can get fit and have fun at the same time. But you need to set an example.

Notice the difference to your family's health and well-being with regular half hour works five times a week. Photo / Thinkstock
Notice the difference to your family's health and well-being with regular half hour works five times a week. Photo / Thinkstock

When you're struggling to get your kids off the computer, it can feel like an uphill slog to get your family involved in any regular exercise.

But experts say exercising with your children not only encourages you to stick to a regular programme, but is great bonding time.

Trainer Chris Blair says people often underestimate how much exercise their kids can handle. "Kids can handle a lot," he says. "Think of what they do in the playground at school."

He says one of the best ways to get kids active is to take them along on activities the parents are already doing. "Kids generally follow what you do. If you go for a regular walk, take them with you."

Try to be a role model of regular fitness so your children get used to the idea of exercise as a normal part of life.

If you have several members of the family wanting to work on a particular fitness goal, hire a personal trainer to devise a workout plan for each person.

A trainer will help define goals and draft a programme that can be done on an at-home circuit with minimal equipment.

Keeping it interesting is key to maintaining children's attention. At the start of the week, have each member of the family pick an activity you will do together one day or evening of the week, such as tennis, rollerblading or Frisbee in the park. Or have each member of the family pick an exercise and then spend the week working on getting better at it - the person with the biggest strength or endurance increase at the end of the week wins a prize.

Trainers offer five quick ways to get your kids involved.

Park/backyard games

Frisbee in the yard may sound obvious, but busy parents may have to make the time to do this. Don't just sit and watch. Keep moving around while you keep an eye on your children. Fold the washing, trim the hedge, but be there to throw the ball back occasionally. Your presence is the encouragement they need.

Video games

There are lots of video games designed to get you moving and products such as Wii Fit allow you to compare how you are tracking with the rest of the family. Or switch to motion-sensing consoles that will have you and your kids off the couch, such as Playstation Move or Xbox Kinetic.

Swimming

Swimming is great for all ages. Even if your kids are just splashing around in the water.

Walking

Take the family for a walk for half an hour five times a week and you'll notice a difference to your health and well-being. If you need extra motivation, sign up for charity fundraising events such as a 5km walk and then work as a family towards achieving the goal, helping a good cause at the same time.

Cycling

Auckland has lots of safe family cycling routes if you know where to look. Visit these websites for route maps and descriptions:

aucklandtransport.govt.nz

cyclingauckland.co.nz

cycle-route.com

- Herald on Sunday

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