"I want to go on a two-mile run." Said no child, ever. Although exercise is an integral part of their lives whatever age they are, it's important for parents to come up with clever ways to make the experience enjoyable. The long-term health benefits are simply unbeatable - allowing them to wear themselves out every day guarantees them a good night's sleep and can protect against obesity, among other things.
Recent research from the British Journal of Sports Medicine claimed that World Health Organisation guidelines are too restricted for children and don't promote motor skill development, socialisation or the fun factor. So a little extra thought is most definitely needed for the kiddies.
Workout regimes for kids
All right - so we've established that workouts for adults aren't going to get you very far. So what's the secret? Well, your best bet is to make the workout so much fun that the children don't actually realise it's a workout at all. Transforming exercise into playtime is undoubtedly the way to go. Here are our top tips for doing just that.
1. Invest in outdoor toys
The great outdoors is one of the best places to indulge in exercise and get the blood and adrenaline pumping. Bear in mind that you don't need an enormous budget or a gigantic garden to accommodate outdoor play - swingball, slides and climbing frames are available in a variety of sizes and can be great ways of encouraging active play. If you're looking to spend more, how about a trampoline? Bouncing is one of the best forms aerobic exercise there is.
2. Walk to school
A good way of getting more exercise into the lives of the kids is to think about elements of daily life that can be replaced with a more exercise-focused approach. The school run definitely counts here - if you're lucky enough to live within an easy distance of your child's place of learning, then you can easily transform weekday mornings into a workout. Whether walking or even taking to the scooter or bike, getting the blood going before lessons every morning can be a good way of getting the kids focused for a day at school.
If the hallowed halls of education are inaccessible on foot or by scooter, try replacing another element of your average week with exercise. Instead of picking up a newspaper in the supermarket every weekend, why not lead a family mission in search of a corner shop? You just need to use your imagination and be a bit creative.
3. Dance as a family
"Dancing the tango, could Mum and Daughter please take to the floor?" Strictly Come Dancing has a lot to answer for - children and adults alike adore the reality show and love the idea of taking to the floor themselves. You don't need to be Anton Du Beke to hold your very own dance competition in the home, and dancing is an incredible way to exercise. We've all seen those celebrities rapidly shedding the pounds as soon as they get in the training room! Dancing is a great way of getting your children interested in a fantastically fun form of exercise - and you might even spark an interest that could last for life.
4. Indulge in the latest playground games
If you've ever watched the playground during break time, you'll know the kids hurtle around it like balls in a pinball machine. Believe it or not, there is usually a sacred order to how this chaos is played out, with a mix of classic playground games ranging from 'it' to bulldog and many other variants besides. Trying to understand the rules is a little difficult sometimes but it shouldn't stop your family trying to recreate the fun at home. There's a never-ending supply of activities out there and if you and your children run out of ideas for games to play, then the internet is never short of them.