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Keeping active through challenging times

28 May 2020

Our Active Families service based in Bishop Auckland in County Durham, share their top tips for keeping you and your family active during these challenging times. Read on for some brilliant resources and ideas.

Active Families

Active Families is a Family Action project in Bishop Auckland, County Durham. Our project normally involves working with groups of families to facilitate activities so they can be more active together. We also enjoy a hot meal together during the sessions. As we can no longer deliver the project in this way, we have had to come up with creative solutions to continue to support families! We have recently launched our Active Families Durham Facebook page where we are regularly posting fun family activities and cooking ideas. We are also looking to provide more direct support to families who are in need of extra inspiration or motivation, over the phone.

Challenges to being active

Recently many of us have been spending more time at home, indoors, where we can sometimes feel cramped and unable to move around the way we used to. Before our routines and lifestyle changed, we may have taken for granted how much physical exercise we actually did. Little things like walking to school or the bus stop, moving around an office or popping to the shops on your break – these were all ways of being active without even realising we were doing it! Now that staying at home is paramount to everyone’s safety, it’s been easy to become inactive and stagnant. You may find it challenging having enough space in your home and garden, if you have one. If you live in a busy town or city, it can be scary venturing outside, especially if you have a larger family.

How to stay active

Getting creative inside and outside of the family home can be lots of fun. Thinking outside the box, and involving the whole family, can mean that you come up with some exciting challenges that you might not have thought to try before!

Using technology

YouTube has thousands of fun exercise videos ranging from 10 minutes to over an hour, from beginners to advance, in a range of different styles. Our favourites are:
Change4Life 10 minute shake ups
You could even download different apps like Pokemon Go or Geocaching UK to get you out and about.

“There’s nothing wrong with looking after you, you matter too.”

Indoor activities

If doing an online video doesn’t appeal to you, there are plenty of ways to get creative with the indoor space and resources that you have. Why not have a go at making your own obstacle course, (this can be done indoors or outdoors, if you have the room), play balloon volleyball, or just have a dance party in the living room! Another idea that we love can be done when reading. Pick a book that has a word that’s often repeated, for example, choose the word “hat” if you’re reading The Cat in the Hat. Every time the word comes up in the story, get your kid to do a jumping jack. You can make this more difficult by picking different actions for different words! You can also come up with a different action or exercise for each letter of the alphabet, and then have a go at ‘spelling’ you name or any other words that you fancy! Why not come up with different challenges or exercise for the 6 numbers on a dice? When you roll the dice you have to do the challenge of the number that you roll! This can easily be done throughout the day and is a really effective way to keep the whole family moving!

Outdoor activities 

If staying in really isn’t your thing, there’s plenty of social distancing activities you can do outdoors. Going for a local walk is a great way to blow away the cobwebs and clear the mind. Playing nature bingo during your walk will engage children and help you to appreciate your local area – you may even spot things that you hadn’t noticed before! In June, the Wildlife Trust are running a ’30 Days Wild’ challenge. They want you to do one wild thing a day throughout June: for your health, wellbeing and for the planet. Sign up on their website and receive an activity pack full of great ideas!
If walking doesn’t excite you then going on a family bike ride is a brilliant form of exercise. A Family Action colleague has taken on a fantastic challenge with her family:
“After the lockdown was announced our family decided we were going to give ourselves a big cycle challenge – travelling from Lands End to John O’Groats, which is 1,407 kilometres! We are doing this by using an exercise bike in the house and also by going on bike rides, for our daily exercise. The children have been using the exercise bike for PE lessons too. Even our dog has got involved! So far we have ‘travelled’ 877km, so we’re over half way there!”
Creating your own family challenges is a great way to get the whole family involved and to keep each other motivated.

Be kind to yourself

Being at home most of the time can be quite stressful, especially being out of your usual routine without your usual ways to let off steam. It’s understandable to feel stressed and anxious in these unprecedented times. Finding your own ways to relax is vitally important. If being active as a family is challenging, then make time for yourself. A 15 minute fitness video, dancing to your favourite songs, or a walk around the block to give yourself some breathing space can make a real difference. There’s nothing wrong with looking after you, you matter too.
For more fun ideas to help you get active as a family and for healthy cooking tips, like and follow our Durham Active Facebook page.