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10 family friendly ways to exercise

I’m guilty of over-indulging during the festive period. And now it’s finally January, I really do need to engage in a rather healthier lifestyle. I’ve entered a half-ironman for June and if I’m not ready, it’s going to finish me off. I’m going on a sugar detox but like most parents, I struggle to find the time to fit in exercise. At the moment my husband is away, so popping out for a run in the evening isn’t an option. So I’ve come up with 10 family friendly ways to exercise.

1. Go walking as a family

The likelihood is the whole family have overindulged during the festive period. So why not get some fresh air and head for the hills? For us this means long walks with the dogs and the children, usually stopping at a pub or café for a drink half way. Let’s break ourselves into this fitness lark gently!

10 family friendly ways to exercise

2. Go on holiday

I don’t know about you, but when we go on holiday it means fresh air, walks on the beach and running around. Perfect to kick start a healthy lifestyle. There are some great deals around at this time of the year too.

3. Leave the car at home and cycle

If your family are old enough, it can be a great idea to take your bikes on short journeys instead of driving. Cycling is a fun way to get active without feeling like you’re working out. Don’t forget safety equipment and bike locks if you’ll be leaving your bikes unattended.

10 family friendly ways to exercise

4. Outdoor days out

Lots of days out for children are still open at this time of year. Check out local farm parks, countryside centres and theme parks. Some do close in January so make sure you check on their websites before you go. It may not seem like great exercise to just go out for the day, but if you’ve got a pedometer, see how many steps you take while you’re there. You might be surprised!

5. Gardening

There’s always jobs to do in the garden and this is another way of getting fit without feeling like you’re working out. Winter is a good time to dig the areas you’ll be planting things in next year. Weed winter vegetable beds, prune plants and hedgerows and get started on any landscaping that needs doing in time for the spring.

10 family friendly ways to exercise

6. Parkrun

Every Saturday morning at 9am all over the UK and now worldwide, people gather in parks to complete a 5k course. Some are seasoned park runners, others are first timers and some walk the whole course. Libby did her first Parkrun in September and children aged four and over are allowed to take part. You can even bring well-behaved dogs to some events!

7. Exercise videos

For me, an exercise video is a bit of a last resort. I bought one when I was pregnant with Lia though, and Libby and I did it together. If I can’t manage to fit in any other exercise while my husband is away, I may well resort to doing this in the evenings. It takes just 20 minutes and it is designed to work all the muscle groups.

8. A turbo trainer

I’m not one for exercising indoors if I can help it. I’d much rather run or cycle outdoors and even swimming is better in open water where possible. But to get out and do that, I’d need someone to look after the children and that’s not always possible.

So a few years ago, I picked up a second-hand turbo trainer from preloved. This is a similar site to eBay, but as it’s not quite so well known, things tend to be a bit cheaper. Cycling is my main challenge for this year, so I’ll be starting 2017 as I mean to go on with a 30 minute ride on the turbo trainer after the girls have gone to bed tonight.

9. Running

With my triathlon to think about, I need to fit in running somehow. When the schools go back, I’ll be making use of the two mornings a week when Lia is either with family or at nursery and Libby is at school. But until then, they’ll have to come with me. We’ve got a sports field locally where we can play running games and the girls can ride their bikes. It’s not quite an ultramarathon, but it’s definitely better than nothing.

10 family friendly ways to exercise

10. Rock climbing or bouldering

There are lots of climbing clubs in the UK and abroad that welcome new members. It’s a great way to try out the sport without having to invest in all the equipment straight away. If you don’t like heights, you can try bouldering instead. You go along the rocks horizontally a short distance from the ground instead of going upwards. Still great for both strength and fitness.

I never would have thought to take my children bouldering, but I got quite into it years ago and there were always young children at the bouldering wall. In an indoor climbing centre, it’s perfectly safe because there are enormous mats on the floor. It also seems like a sport that’s great to start from a young age – the children who used to go when I was there were incredible at it!

10 family friendly ways to exercise

Please note, this post contains affiliate links. I may earn a small amount of commission if you make a purchase via such a link. However all views, opinions and exercise ideas are my own. Now all I need to do is get off the sofa and follow my own advice!



  1. January 1, 2017 / 8:07 pm

    Some great ideas here – if only I could run! I’m double-jointed so really struggle with running, but a good family walk out is definitely something we can all enjoy. Happy New Year xx

  2. January 2, 2017 / 7:29 am

    I can’t believe you are doing a half ironman!! I love that going on holiday is a option, I love an excuse to go on holiday and I can say it’s to help me get fit 🙂 Family walks are where we are, it’s become part of our weekends and we love it. X

    • January 3, 2017 / 3:12 pm

      Haha I can’t quite believe I’m doing a half ironman either, I’m nowhere near fit enough at the moment! Yep walking is a great way to keep active, we love it too.

  3. January 2, 2017 / 7:30 am

    Some really good ideas here. Like you, I never exercise indoors, but it definitely makes sense for when you’ve got no childcare. Days out are definitely good for walking a long way without even realising and the kids don’t even know they’re exercising. Result!

    • January 3, 2017 / 3:12 pm

      Thank you Sarah, I’m relieved to still be able to get some sort of exercise!

  4. January 2, 2017 / 4:01 pm

    Getting outdoors is a good way of getting more exercise and it is amazing how far you can walk on a family day out without really being aware of it. Good luck with training for the half-ironman 🙂

    • January 3, 2017 / 3:06 pm

      Thank you, I think I’ll need plenty of luck for that!

  5. January 6, 2017 / 3:41 pm

    Hi Nat, good on you for entering a half IronMan. I know you said it was something you planned to do one day. Exercising with a young family isn’t easy, but you have listed some fun ways of staying fit as a family. I’m not keen on indoor exercise either, but when needs must we have an elliptical trainer that does have its uses (and has to be the most mundane way to exercise!).


  6. January 6, 2017 / 10:15 pm

    What a brilliant post and actually one I was about to write (well similar not as good). I have my 9 year old signed up to two running clubs now and that started with Parkrun Junior – and they walked 12k before they went back to school.

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