An active lifestyle is important for the health of the whole family, but how do we fit fitness into our busy, financially constrained lives? We offer some fun, cheap ideas to help the whole family get active. Opportunities are more varied than ever, from family bike rides to cheap gyms and Pools – enjoy!

Family life with young children can be hard work. Whether you’re battling through sleeplessness with a newborn, tearing your hair out over toddler tantrums or negotiating growing independence with your school age child, the last thing you want is another thing to add to your “To Do” list. Even when that thing is something as sensible as the recommendation that parents and children need to get active together if we are going to avoid major health problems on a society-wide scale from the next generation onwards. It may help that there are plenty of economical, fun ways to get active together. Below, we consider some ideas you might like to try out.

Young baby

With a young baby, nothing beats walking. Pop your little poppet into a sling or a pushchair and you’re away! For mums, it’s gentle exercise for your postnatal body. For dads, it’s a way of getting some fresh air, bonding with your baby, and giving mum a rest. And it’s cheap! Gyms are another possibility, as many now offer crèche facilities, providing some precious me-time for pushed parents. For those who prefer a more structured group approach and the social element that this can bring, why not give buggyfit or baby swimming classes a go?

Toddler

If you haven’t taken your little one swimming yet, have a go! They’ll be ravenous and exhausted afterwards – generally considered a bonus for easy mealtimes and bedtimes. Many swimming pools offer cheap rates at off-peak periods and some children’s centres even do free swimming. Outings to the park and turning toddlers out in the garden are another good and cheap option. Don’t be tempted to sit back with a book while you can, though – remember, this is supposed to be active time for you, too! While you’re chasing them around, playing hide-and-seek and rolling around the grass, just think how well-earned that glass of wine will be when the little cherub is in bed.

School age children

At this age, your children are becoming coordinated enough to engage in sporting activities with you. Focus on something you all enjoy doing together – for example, cycling and football popular options that needn’t cost the earth. You’ll be setting a good example and making the activity much more interesting for your child if you engage in the sport with her. If your child is a bit more independently-minded, consider your local leisure centres. They will usually offer all sorts of activities for school age children, and there may well be cheap gyms attached to the centres as well – so you have no excuse not to get active!

Parents

Finally, don’t forget the importance of a little time just for you. Trying to do your best by your children during these financially straitened times is very hard work, and it can be stressful to feel like you’re having to do everything on the cheap. Gyms and exercise classes may feel like a luxury – but then, they don’t have to cost the earth, and you deserve a little luxury!

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