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Charlotte Hawkins’ Handy Hacks To Getting The Whole Family Moving

3 MIN READ • 14th May 2020

Struggling to get your kids to part with their devices and join you on a #walktowellbeing? Try Charlotte’s handy hacks to get moving as a family

It can be a constant challenge prising little ones away from the lure of screens, whether it’s the TV, an iPad or a phone. Once they start on games or chatting with their friends, it can be hard to get them up and moving. But it’s so important to instill a love of exercise from a young age, so it becomes second nature when they’re older and sets them up with good habits for life. It’s not only good for their bodies to keep them fit and active, but it’s good for their minds as well.

The younger you start, the better. My fiveyear- old, Ella-Rose is still at the age where we can have a say about what she does, and when (that’s the theory, anyway!). I find with her, she enjoys the simplest of games, whether it’s playing tag, hula hooping, running races, skipping, or just dancing in the kitchen. The options at that age are endless. Setting challenges is a great way to capture their enthusiasm. We recently dug out our Wii Fit to help her get ready for our ski holiday by trying the slalom and ski jump. Now she’s excited to try out all the games, whether it’s penguin slide, tightrope walking, boxing or jogging. She loves the fact she can track her scores to see how she’s doing.

With older children it can be tricker, but it’s vital for their self-esteem and mental health to exercise regularly. When I was at school I never felt very sporty and didn’t feel like I connected with exercise. It wasn’t until later in life that I’ve learned to love movement, and recognise its importance for me. One of the ways I’ve got there is through trying new things, and being involved in team sports. Taking part in BBC’s Strictly confirmed my love of dancing, and I found after taking part in the Sport Relief Boat Race that I really enjoy rowing, and was also pretty good at it too! I think the key for youngsters is finding that sport or activity they really connect with. The good thing these days is that it’s not just the traditional football, netball or hockey on offer, there’s a much wider range, so it’s easier to find something that suits everyone. It’s about working out what clicks. When it’s fun, and not a chore, then it’s so much easier and your children are more likely to stick with it.

Here are my top tips for encouraging children to be more active:

1. Set an example: make sure they see that exercise is a key part of your life, and then it will come more naturally to them and they’ll accept that’s what people do. Get them to go for a run with you, or get a group of their friends together to do a parkrun.

2. Make it interesting and exciting – if they’re not into traditional sports then try to help them find a group or a class that they’ll love – whether it’s street dancing, boxing or Zumba.

3. Tap into their competitive spirit and set challenges, either with their friends or together as a family. Have a family fitness chart so you can record everyone’s progress.

4. Get a fitness tracker watch so they can monitor their progress. Set targets for the number of steps. Ella-Rose was delighted by the watch we got her recently, and it was great to see her engaged with it. She loves keeping track of how many steps she’s doing and will run up and down to add more.

5. Turn it into an adventure, and make it fun. Go exploring – hill walks with the dog or a sprint race across a sandy beach. If all else fails, use exercise as a negotiating tactic – earn screen time by an equivalent amount of exercise!

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