Top tips for keeping active these school holidays

AS a parent, working out is hard at the best of times. We've got some expert tips to help you get out and active with your kids these school holidays.

Top tips for keeping active these school holidays

When we get the opportunity, exercise is a time to decompress before the day starts or wind down as it's ending. It's alone time, a stress relief. But when the school holidays come around, any remnants of a chance to workout go completely out the window. While your kids are running around, jumping on monkey bars and doing cartwheels in the sunshine, most of your time during the holidays is focused on keeping them happy, healthy and safe.

Any parent knows how lovely it is seeing your kids getting out and active. The school holidays for many parents, however, usually mean a constant juggle of work, kids and free time. Just because their days free up doesn't mean yours do too.

Father and fitness advocate Sam Wood has his hands full with 10-month-old Willow and high schooler Eve. He believes that keeping a healthy and fit family starts with you. And if you get both you and your kids into a good habit of physical activity, it will last a lifetime.

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What about you?

"The school holidays should be a time for parents to slow down, but it never seems to be the case. Even at my gym, I see parents returning only when school starts back," explains Sam.

"The key is to accept that when school stops and the routine changes, this doesn't mean that the activity should stop. You may not get the half-an-hour workout you're used to, but if you can't beat 'em, join 'em, I say."

Having your kids around more does mean adjusting your workout schedule. As Sam suggests, you're probably not going to be able to fit in your bi-weekly gym session, but there are other ways to kick-start your fitness journey together.

Match their energy

It may seem like a hard task, particularly when most of your daily energy is taken up with the kids themselves, but Sam says you have to practice what you preach. If you tell them to get out in the garden for a runaround, you have to be prepared to get out there with them.

"As a parent, you're a facilitator," he explains. "Encourage them to do something with you because you know if you both go to the oval and kick the footy around together, you'll wear each other out."

He recommends having a kick of a soccer ball together, running a few laps around the oval or even going for a bike ride with the family on a safe bike track. These activities are simple, yet effective in building your fitness and helping your kids expel some energy. If you're the adventurous type, why don't you throw yourself in the deep end and go to a trampoline park?

"Quite often parents will have a lot more fun than they think will. You'll be amazed at how many calories you burn and how much fun you'll end up having. It's one of those things you don't know how good it is until you try," he says.

Make it their idea

Setting a good example for your kids sometimes means letting them come up with the idea of being active first. That way, if you want to workout, they'll join you with little resistance.

"The key is to get engagement from your kids. If the idea can come from them first, then it tends to be more easily adopted," Sam explains.

"Get them invested in the idea. If I say to Eve, "Let's go for a run!" she'll roll her eyes and go back to her iPad. You have to lead them to water essentially, help them make the decision themselves and then they're more open to the idea of working out with you."

Sam believes that as long as the exercise is engaging to your child, you can both build up core strength, improve body weight and flexibility together. It can be a really amazing bonding experience, as long as you adjust your approach to suit your little one.

"With Eve, we do star jumps, wall squats, planks, sit ups and push-ups on the kitchen bench - she's not quite strong enough to do full push-ups yet," he explains. "With Willow, Snez and I take turns working out with her. We do squats, presses and sit-ups as we hold her. Russian twists are her favourite - she seems to think it's a funny game and giggles a lot."

This originally appeared on Kidspot and has been republished with permission.

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