Staying active as the nights draw in
As the wind blows the leaves off the trees and the evenings darken, it’s tempting to retreat indoors. The call of Netflix and the sofa is strong on a Sunday afternoon or in the evenings!
But getting layered up and getting outside is beneficial for all of us – and for parents it’s doubly worth it.
Research from Public Health England (PHE) found that only one fifth of children have the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity a day. Also, importantly, 57% of children said they would be more physically active if their parents were.
So while guilt-tripping you into being active isn’t the purpose of this blog, knowing that getting yourself moving is likely to encourage your kids to do the same might be a good incentive!
The NHS recommends that adults are active everyday and do a mix of aerobic and strengthening activities each week. They also recommend breaking up periods of sitting down with movement and light activity. For more on their guidelines, see here.
So this is a post just for parents: ten quick ideas to inspire you to get moving and build some activity into everyday life.
Use your commute
It’s an obvious one, but it works because you can create a habit. If you drive or catch public transport to work, see how you can build some activity into your journey. Maybe you can walk, run or cycle the entire commute. Or maybe it’s a case of parking up, or getting off the bus early, and doing the last 20 minutes on foot.
Join a team
As children we were naturally more active than we are now. What sorts of sports or activities did you enjoy? Were you on a football or hockey team? Many local adult teams are desperate for new members. Don’t let being out of shape put you off – go along and see what they have to offer. There will be training geared towards beginners as well as more experienced team members.
This one does rope the kids in - spend some time running around with them! Or wrestling, or climbing trees, or playing hide and seek. Anything that gets you feeling out of breath.
Get a friend involved
Having an accountability buddy can make all the difference to whether we show up or not. So if you’ve been telling yourself you’ll go for that run and it never quite happens, find a friend who’s been telling themselves the same thing, then set a time and date when you’ll run together.
Turn housework into an Olympic sport
Setting yourself challenges for how quickly you can get through the cleaning will help you move faster. And vacuuming or mopping floors can be a great workout for your arms and shoulders. Just make sure you do some more fun activities as well!
Get in the garden
Tidying up the garden for winter, digging mulch into vegetable plots, all of this counts as moderate activity – getting our muscles working and our hearts pumping. So if you’ve been putting off some garden jobs, this is a bonus reason to get them done.
Have a kitchen disco
Or a lounge disco, or a hallway disco! Get the music on and get dancing, with or without the children around.
You can still buy fitness DVDs in the shops, but it’s easy enough to do a quick search and find an exercise programme to suit you. Whether you’re looking for some HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), zumba, or something else entirely, there are bound to be videos to suit.
Sign up for an event
In the same way that buddying up can motivate us, committing to an event is a good tactic for motivating yourself to get outside. Whether it’s a sponsored swim, a run or something more specialised, there are distances and challenges for all levels. And you can raise money for your favourite cause at the same time.
This won’t work for everyone, but if there are other people who can look after the kids’ bedtime a couple of times a week, use that as your active time. Head to the gym, the pool, out for a run or a local fitness class.
Not all of these will suit you, but by picking the ones that do and fitting them into your weekly routines, you’ll start to see a change in your activity levels. And, just as importantly, your children will notice too.