The summer holidays are just around the corner, and with them the chance to switch off, relax – and suspend your normal routine.
21st June 2023
But this can also include tricky negotiations over things like screen usage, bedtimes and extra sweet treats!
Another thing that can change over the long weeks of the break is the regular exercise regime – it can be all too easy to become less active during the long holidays, with no organised PE lessons or after-school clubs and activities, and no walking or cycling to school.
In fact, a number of studies have shown that the holiday can have a detrimental impact on children’s health, leading to higher BMI and obesity rates. Just a couple of weeks’ inactivity can affect overall levels of health and fitness. (For example, one study found that slipping from 10,000 to 1,500 daily steps can lead to metabolic changes which up the chances of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, increased body fat and a loss of muscle mass.)
We’ve previously written about NHS targets for children and exercise which apply over the summer as much as they do at any time of year. So it is really important for children keep moving, and not just for their general health and wellbeing, it'll retain their fitness progress made during the academic year, they’ll also sleep better and be happier generally (and less bored) as a result.
The good news is that there are many things you can do to prevent your family from getting unhealthy and unfit due to the summertime change of routine.
1. Set goals
As with anything else, set targets for how active you and your family will be during the holiday weeks. And there’s no harm in incorporating an element of friendly rivalry to see who can be the most active! Maybe use a sticker chart with a reward at the end of the summer holidays.
2. Make the most of what’s available
School may be out for summer, but sports and holiday clubs and activity days will be running. If you can, book the kids on activities like these. It could even give you the time up to get a workout in yourself.
3. Remember the power of walking
Break up the day with late afternoon and morning walks to prevent slippage into sedentary habits. If you can hit 10,000 daily steps that should be enough to maintain a good basic level of fitness
4. Set a structure
The summer holidays don’t have to mean all discipline and structure go out of the window. Keep to set bedtimes and mealtimes as far as possible. When it comes to eating, stick to a healthy diet and snacks – and get the kids in the kitchen helping out with cooking.
5. Exercise with the kids
If you do this, you’ll be setting a great example about a healthy lifestyle. And you get a workout in yourself at the same time! There are plenty of options, from hiking to biking and swimming and active garden games. Make being active part of your summertime routine – and keep things light and fun so that exercise doesn’t feel like some sort of military drill.
Parks, green spaces and outdoor gyms
Many councils invest in their parks and other green spaces by providing outdoor gyms, giving families ample opportunity to exercise together and remain active during the summer holidays.
Indeed, such facilities actively encourage visits to public outdoor spaces. The whole family can even cycle or walk there to warm up. An outdoor gym is a great way for kids to stay active while they are off school.
Fewer of us are set to be jetting off abroad on holiday this year. One poll of 2,000 holidaymakers from a homeware retailer found that more than a third (36%) of Brits will be staying at home in summer 2023, rather than flying overseas. If you’re ‘staycationing’ in another town or city and spot an outdoor gym there, using it can help you to stay active. Or why not plan to do this in advance and find out what facilities are available before you leave home? And, of course, if you have an outdoor gym near you at home, make the most of it!
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