Summer holidays are an important family time, but the long break can pose problems for parents looking to provide healthy, fun and low cost activities to keep children entertained. But with the colour and excitement of last years’ Rio Olympics to capture the imagination, this summer is a great opportunity to get your family excited about sport and getting active as you and the children emulate your sporting heroes.
We all need physical activity to strengthen bones and muscles. It improves cardiovascular health, contributes to a healthy weight, and importantly for children, supports learning, social skills and develops movement, balance and coordination.
How much physical activity we need depends on our age! UK Physical Activity guidelines recommend:
• Toddlers and children of pre-school age should do 3 hours spread throughout the day
• 5-18 year olds should do at least 60 minutes a day, varying from moderate activity (e.g. playground activity), to vigorous activity (e.g. running). On 3 days a week, this should include bone building exercise (e.g. jumping).
• Adults should be active daily. Those aged 19-64 should do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity a week in bouts of 10 minutes or more (1).
Here’s 5 Olympic sports you can try together:
This is a great way to explore the outdoors, with off road routes widely available. All ages can join in and the pace can be as easy or hard as you like. If you don’t have bikes, try borrow or rent them.
For Cycling routes, see the Sustrans website.
To take it to another level: British Cycling have a youth programme called Go Ride , which introduces young riders to the sport, improves bike handling and offers entry level competition.
The joy of track and field can be anything from seeing who can jump the furthest or who can run like Usain Bolt. A relay race gets everyone involved, and teaches children how to work together as a team.
To take it to the next level: Try Junior Park Run. This is a series of 2k runs for children aged 4 to 14. They are held in open spaces around the UK. They are open to all, free, safe and easy to take part in.
Now that the heat of summer’s arrived, head to the pool for a swim or family game of water polo.
Find your local pools here, or see the Swimming.Org to learn more about children and adult’s swimming. It has advice for parents introducing children to swimming, guidance on the “learn to swim” pathway and information for swimmers of all levels.
4. Beach Volleyball
If you’re having a family beach holiday or heading to the coast, take a ball and try Beach Volleyball. The main objective is to stop the ball hitting the ground on your side of the net with 3 touches, whilst trying to make it hit the ground on the opposite side of the court. If you are lucky enough to find a beach with a net, use it, otherwise improvise.
Click here for more information on beach volleyball tournaments and beach festivals in the UK this summer.
5. Mini Golf
Golf will be in the Olympics for the first time since 1904, so now is a great time to try this global sport. Mini Golf is a fun way to try it, with many courses both in the UK and abroad.
For those wanting to learn more about this exciting sport, the Get into Golf website provides information on taster events, beginner courses, special information for juniors and where you can play. If your child shows a keen interest in golf, The Golf Foundation provides young people, regardless of age and ability, with the opportunity to enjoy golf, and provides player pathways to clubs.
Enjoy the Olympic pageantry and spectacle, and when the family competition gets heated, remember the Olympic Creed:
“The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph, but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered, but to have fought well.”