Following the worrying news recently that obesity is another risk factor in contracting cancer, its seriousness second only to the risk of smoking, it’s perhaps time for parents to take another look at their diet and exercise habits.

For it is family habits, developed when the children are young and continued throughout childhood as a natural part of family life, that have the biggest impact on the children’s future wellbeing.

It’s suggested that the rise in obesity is fuelled by the attraction of virtual entertainment and the fact that today’s families spend far more time on these pursuits and less on physical ones.

Obesity aside, active lifestyles have a greater positive impact on general health than parents sometimes realise. Physical activity not only helps control weight but develops confidence and stimulates brain development, all of which impact on academic success. Any physical activity or movement also helps maintain positive mental health and overall spiritual wellbeing.

So it’s worth looking at what active family habits you could cultivate and finding some pursuits that you all enjoy and keep going.

Here are some suggestions, depending on what facilities you have local to you;

  • Make walking to destinations more the norm, instead of bus, train or car, as well as enjoying family walks in different terrains.
  • A weekly family swim, or time in the pool with inflatables, is great exercise.
  • Join local, group led pursuits like jogging, Park Runs, cycling, rambling etc. Doing it with a group helps with commitment to regularity and consequently motivation.
  • Regular visits to parks and playgrounds will naturally entice children to play more actively. Kids easily expend energy in big adventure playgrounds
  • Many public parks now have gym apparatus to use as well as the more usual swings and climbing frames etc.
  • Try skating, whether ice, blades or quads, as well as skate boarding.
  • Wall climbing and parkour facilities are on the increase and build strength and confidence.
  • Any sport; football, tennis, badminton, basketball, cricket, rounders – all still equally valuable even if informal.
  • Dancing of any sort is often overlooked as valuable exercise. Popular groups like Diversity and street dance groups have generated greater acceptance of it.
  • Martial arts, yoga, and other similar disciplines require strength and agility and are excellent forms of exercise too.

Basically, any kind of physical activity is valuable – it doesn’t have to be formal or sport to be beneficial. Try new things; if you can find something you love the problem of motivating yourselves away from those comfy inactive pursuits is more easily overcome, but it might take some trial and error and persistence before that happens, so keep at it. It’s never too late to change from sedentary habits to active ones.

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Joseph is a French and Spanish to English translator, language enthusiast, and blogger.