Staying Active As A Family

Date: 12 December 2022   Author: Energise Me

For some, being physically active can be a daunting experience. But when you’ve got your family beside you, activity can help to build your relationships while improving your health.

My name is Lou, I’m a Children’s Physiotherapist and I am always keen to encourage activity in young people. Being a mum of 3 boys means this extends to my family life too. I know the benefits exercise has for young people and I see first-hand how not being active can have serious implications on someone’s health. Children and young people need to be active every day to help them to cope with the changes their bodies go through while they grow. Without this, aches and pains can develop. As well as have an impact on sleep, appetite and mood. All of which can lead to an inability to join in with their normal daily activities or concentrate properly at school.

When They Were Younger

From a young age, my partner and I made sure that the children were out of the house every day. Walking, going to the park or playing in the garden to name a few.  We always tried to join in with these activities. Even if we are often too big to fit comfortably down the slides!

Where possible, I also like to partake in active travel. If my boys come too, we generally get to chat and laugh much more than if we were to drive.

Looking After Me

Personally, I stay active by running, cycling and exercising with a local bootcamp, Atlas Fitness Ltd. Often, I’ll come home and encourage the boys to do some of the exercises we completed in the session. They love the variety and I talk to them about which muscles each exercise is using and why it is important. They sometimes come along to join in with the bootcamp as well. Where possible, I also like to partake in active travel. If my boys come too, we generally get to chat and laugh much more than if we were to drive.

We try to balance their desire to be competitive with just being out and having fun.

Present Day

As a family we spend time together being active. This ranges from taking a football to our local park and having a kick-about to climbing mountains on our holidays or going bodyboarding on trips to the beach. We try to balance their desire to be competitive with just being out and having fun. A bit of competition is great for encouraging them to join in. It also helps them to learn about how to deal with both winning and losing. However, it’s also important to be able to just relax while being active. Parkrun is a great example of that. A Saturday morning plod around the park together can be great fun. It’s more about seeing lots of other people out and about than trying to get the best time. We have been doing it together since the boys were about 5, and they are all now much faster than me!

Going Forward

As they get older and want to spend more time with friends, it’s becoming more about helping them to be active independently of us. We take them to football training and tennis and make sure they have comfortable clothing to exercise in. We also help them to understand how being sedentary and spending time looking at screens needs to be balanced with getting enough activity to stay healthy. I try to promote making active choices throughout the day such as going up stairs rather than taking the lifts and walking to the cinema rather than getting a lift. Hopefully, they see me enjoying being active each day and are encouraged to seek ways that they can be active too!

It helps me to calm down after a busy day and gives me a break from homework.

Andy*, aged 15

I love being active and spending time outside. It helps me to calm down after a busy day and gives me a break from homework. One of the ways I keep active is by walking to school. This helps to wake me up and feel prepared for the day. I like to walk with my friends because it gives us a chance to catch up. I don’t mind what the weather is like – except if it is raining really hard!

My Favourite Activities

I like to play football. I play for my school and for a Sunday League team called Compton FC. We recently won the league which was an amazing experience! The previous season was not so good, but we all still loved playing and training together. I love that most of the other players don’t go to my school, so I get to mix with people who I don’t see every day. Football makes me work hard – it can be really competitive at times, and this makes me feel excited and determined. Plus, I often forget how hard I am working as my mind is on getting to the ball before the other players. So, it helps improve and maintain my fitness without me realising – result!

My coach encourages us to stay active outside of training times, so I try to do my local Parkrun every week and do some weights in my bedroom each day. I always feel really good after I have completed some exercise even if I sometimes struggle to get started.

Being active makes me feel good about myself.

Spending Time With My Family

As well as football, my family and I love to spend time together while being active. We go for mountain walks when we are on holiday in the Lake District and we try to climb to the top of a different mountain every year (and always treat ourselves with plenty of snacks on the way up!).  Additionally, we help with navigating and using the maps and try to fit in a few river crossings along the way where we have to balance across rocks. Also, we like going to the beach and playing man hunt with our cousins.

Being active makes me feel good about myself, it keeps me healthy, and I think it improves my mood. I often feel really calm and sleep much better when I have spent time outside or being active.

* Name has been changed to ensure privacy of the young person

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