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How to get your kids to exercise without them realising

The school holidays start today – and it can be hard to know how to keep your kids active, entertained and away from their beloved screens.

The summer holidays means six empty weeks are stretching out before you – it’s the perfect opportunity to get your children moving – if you can convince them.

Exercise doesn’t come as naturally to children as it used to.

Rather than playing outside after school or spending the weekends tearing around the streets on their bikes, kids are more likely to be found indoors playing video games, scrolling Instagram or watching YouTube clips.

While this isn’t exactly a new phenomenon, childhood obesity is certainly on the rise in the UK and it is more important than ever to get children moving.

But how do we tear them away from the many technological temptations at their fingertips? It has to start with us. The adults. It’s up to us to show them how it’s done.

‘One of the most positive things you can do as a parent is to engage in physical activity with your kids,’ fitness expert Dean Coulson tells

‘It’s important that they see that you enjoy being active, especially at a young age. To encourage this, it’s important to expose children to a wide spectrum of physical activity.

‘Competitive sports represent only a small fraction of the ways children can form a relationship with exercise. As your children’s fitness “mentor,” you may have to think outside of the box to help them discover activities they enjoy.’

To loads of kids, the word ‘exercise’ conjurs up nothing but images of sweat, discomfort and boredom. What child in their right mind wants to spend their free time ‘getting fit’?

But luckily it’s really easy to package exercise and physical activity into something that looks and feels much more fun than slogging away for ages on a treadmill – your little ones will be fooled in no time.

‘Exercise doesn’t have to be a high-intensity, heart-pounding, competitive endeavour,’ explains Dean.

‘A low-intensity, play-based activity may work to get kids off the sofa. The biggest thing to remember when getting kids up and moving is to make it as fun as possible.

‘Make things a game or a challenge, something to engage them in and have fun. Kids need to move for the sake of moving – not for getting fit. This notion has been so lost for so long, we may need to show them how.

‘This might mean showing your kids how to play.’

Fun fitness activities for kids


This could include dog walks, exploring parks, or heading to the beach. Make things interesting, explore and collect things.

Throwing things around

Whether it’s a ball, a Frisbee, or chucking stones in a river – there are plenty of ways to make throwing and catching part of your routine.

Make it into even more of a game by throwing objects at targets and offering prizes.


If you’ve got bikes in the shed it’s time to dust them off and get the kids involved.

You can find safe, traffic-free routes online, or encourage kids to make a trip to the shops more fun with some added pedal power.

Set an obstacle course

Find a safe environment and set up little challenges – chairs to crawl under, cushions to jump over, platforms to balance on – and the kids will be working up a sweat and trying to beat each other in no time.


So much fun (for kids and adults) but also an incredible cardio workout.

You can buy one for the garden or if you’re lacking in space (or funds) take the family to a trampoline activity centre.

Street games

Come on, you’ve got to remember some of these – tag, capture the flag, bulldog? Bring back your playground classics – they might not be high-tech, but they are unequivocally fun.


A brilliant, heart-pumping activity to try in the park. Get all the family involved and set up your own course in a patch of grass – add a relay element if there’s lots of kids.

They could even make their own batons.


Who doesn’t love a good hip wiggle? Blast your kids’ favourite tunes as loud as your neighbours will allow.

You could even turn out the lights, close the curtains and provide glow sticks for a full-on rave.


Hitting a lido in the sunshine will make it feel like you’re all on holiday. And you don’t have to do length after length, have fun, use inflatables and make up water-based games.


No doubt you will spend some time at the beach this summer – digging holes or building huge sand castles can be a great way to keep kids moving.

Keepy uppy

A classic balloon game – which is perfect for parties.

Blow up a balloon and keep it off the ground. It’s simple, hilarious and can be done inside – which is ideal if the summer turns into a washout.


Helping in the garden can create brilliant games – like who can make the biggest pile of leaves, or the fastest to clear away the weeds wins.

‘It’s really important to create a positive connection with what kids are doing and how they feel afterwards,’ explains Dean.

‘Usually exercise helps kids to feel energised, alert and even more focused.

‘As they get older, they will then realise that the benefits of physical activity are much bigger than just weight loss or improved performance.

‘With a better understanding of fitness, kids will exercise if they know why it is important to them.’

Children look to their parents and to the other adults in their lives to teach them how to live – so a healthy lifestyle has to start with us.

Showing kids that exercise is fun and beneficial will help them to make positive, healthy decisions about how they want to live their lives. So let’s get moving.

I am Team GB

Toyota has teamed up with Team GB to re-launch the hugely successful participation campaign ‘I am Team GB’.

Inspired by the achievements of Team GB athletes and the amazing efforts of local community heroes, Team GB has created ‘The Nation’s Biggest Sports Day’, which will take place on the 24thAugust.

Over the weekend, there will be hundreds of free and fun activities across the country, put on by an army of volunteers; the ‘I am Team GB Games Makers’.

To Join the Team and be part of The Nation’s Biggest Sports Day sign up at:

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