Our modern lifestyles mean that children are increasingly inside and screen time has become the norm. Many children are far less active than in yesteryear and fitness levels are plummeting.
It is really important that we make a conscious effort to get our children active and outdoors. It is not always possible to send children “out to play” as they might have done years ago, so we have to think of alternative, safe ways to make this happen.
Being active won’t just improve their physical health, but will have a positive impact on their mental health too. However, with the increasing popularity of the online world and lure of technology, it’s not always easy to tempt them.
Children are more likely to be active if they enjoy the activity, so here are some fun ideas to get kids active and outdoors (without them realising).
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Meet up with friends
If your children are reluctant to go for a walk, arrange to meet up with friends (and don’t mention the word walk).
They will be too busy chatting, running and having a great time and won’t even realise they’ve been outdoors for a walk.
Have a tree top adventure
There are Go Ape and similar treetop rope course locations all around the world. These are a great way to get your kids active and outdoors.
If you sign up for a session, children (and adults) can get active exploring the forest canopy via a treetop rope course. It involves lots of climbing and muscle-building and it’s great fun!
Younger children can go on the treetop adventure course, which is a gentler course. Additionally it is safer, as they are not responsible for unclipping their own safety clips. Once they are 10 years old and 1.4 metres tall, they can progress to the treetop challenge. This is a longer, more demanding course.
At the end of each course, you usually get to whizz down through the trees on a zip wire. I hate actually jumping off and usually get someone to give me a little push, but love it once I am flying down. I now even think that this is one of the best bits, as it’s so exhilerating! You do have to watch your landing, as you could end up with a lot of wood bark in your underwear!
Borrow a dog
The Chimptrip children are desperate to have a dog, so they will leap at the chance to go out for a walk if one of our four-legged friends is about. It’s even better if they get the chance to hold the lead. There’s no excuse for not getting outdoors if you’ve got your own dog!
Luckily for us, their aunt has just bought an adorable puppy, so we have now have one very cute reason to get outside.
Do "50 things before you are 11 ¾"
Print off the “50 things to do before you are 11 ¾” activity list from the National Trust . It is an activity sheet which suggests 50 ways to get your kids active outdoors in the countryside, up a mountain or at the beach.
The list has been put together by children. It suggests simple, fun ideas that will help get the kids to try new things and connect with nature.
Geocaching is a fantastic way to get your kids active outside. You just need to download the app, so that they can join in this worldwide treasure hunt. There are millions of hidden geocaches around the world, just waiting to be found.
We often go out with the plan to follow a geocache route, but sometimes do a more spontaneous geocache if we need to motivate the children. The kids love it, especially if they get to hold the compass.
If you are new to geocaching, take a look at our beginners’ guide to geocaching for ideas on how to get started.
Get on your bike
Cycling is a fantastic way for all the family to get active, spend time together outdoors and enjoy nature.
There are plenty of traffic-free cycle routes around the UK.
I am not a fan of cycling uphill, but find that disused railway routes, such as the Monsal Trail are flat and perfect. We have also found some really good, family-friendly routes in Pembrokeshire, Wales. These are all surprisingly flat too.
We have also taken the opportunity to hire bikes when we’ve been on holiday. It’s a great way to see more of a new place.
- Make sure you factor in plenty of stops for little legs
- Pack plenty of snacks to motivate anyone who is flagging!
Sign up for a fun run
A fun run could be a good introduction to running. If it’s their first, register for a non-competitive run to boost their sense of achievement. A colour run or an obstacle course could add an extra element of fun.
As well as building up their fitness levels and helping build strong bones, a fun run can contribute towards good mental health.
Build a den
If you are out for a walk in the woods, let the kids stop and build a den. It’s a brilliant physical activity, as well as being lots of fun too. It can also help develop their creative and teambuilding skills.
Fly a kite
This is a great way to get your kids active and outdoors in the fresh air on a windy day. As well as being fun, chasing your kite has lots of exercise benefits and allows children time with nature.
If you have younger children, you could boost their creative and design skills by making a kite before you go!
Go on a scavenger hunt
Planning a nature or scavenger hunt is one of the best ways to get your kids active and outdoors.
You can easily make your own list of things to hunt for or print a free one off the internet. You will find assorted hunts for the different seasons and environments.
Working in a team to find all the items can be a great idea too.
Have fun on the water
If you are lucky to live near some water, hire a canoe or paddle board. You can have lots of fun splashing about on the water.
The Chimptrips children regularly attend the local Explore Activity camp for a few days during the school holidays. Here they spend half the day on the lake doing various water activities, including kayaking and raft building. They spend the rest of the day doing outside activities, such as bushcraft, orientation and campfire cooking.
They also got to try out some other water activities on a recent family trip to the Cotswolds Water Park. We hired a canoe and had a go at paddleboarding, which really is not as easy as it looks!
Play a game
Our boys love a walk if they know we are going to stop for hide and seek along the way. Or you could head to the park with a ball, cricket set or Nerf Vortex Aero Howler.
Have a bounce
Climb a tree
Head to the park and do some tree climbing. Or go for a walk and stop off on the way. We live near Virginia Water Lake and there are plenty of great trees for climbing on the walk round.
Tree climbing is good for upper and lower body strength and will help improve balance. It also provides another opportunity for being active, connecting with nature and is also a lot of fun.
Be a role model
If children see their parents being physically active, they are more likely to follow lead and be active themselves.
It is very easy to stay in because the weather isn’t great, (often the case in the UK). Sometimes you just have to take the lead and get everyone to wrap up and go outdoors. Make it a family affair.
Over recent years, we have also tried to make our family holidays more active. There is far less time lounging and lot more getting outdoors and exploring.
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