How to Stay Active & Healthy on a Budget
We all know that exercise and staying active will almost certainly improve our mood and is one of the main tools we can use to combat depression. We can even manage to discipline ourselves to go for a walk every day, but involving the whole family is a different matter, especially when we are met with “But it’s booor-ring” So here are some ideas for making staying active fun and cheap!
When it’s raining
When you have to stay at home, there are lots of active things to do indoors. Build an obstacle course for your child (and you!) to complete; set up a Family Fitness Challenge (decide together on activities like “jump on the spot 20 times, spin like a top or 10 sit-ups”) or put a marker across the largest room you have (a washing line?) and play balloon tennis in teams. Why not hold a disco, with your favourite music?
When it’s fine
You can use your garden, if you have one, for bigger obstacle courses and formal games such as cricket and relay races-or do these at the park. Are you brave enough to have a water fight?
Out and about
There are lots of free and interesting places to visit, from libraries to museums and even the railway station to watch the trains, the signals and all the comings and goings. What may be boring to you may be fascinating to your child. Watch out in the local press for free and cheap offers. Get in touch with your local Tourist Information, as their brochures for visitors are just as relevant to residents.
Making walking fun
You either need a destination, such as feeding the ducks, going on the swings or playing Pooh-sticks at the bridge, or you can do an activity on the walk. Have a theme for the day, whether it is to spot anything associated with Postman Pat (cat, letter box, post van) or to pretend that you are spies on a dangerous mission and you have to deliver a coded message to a secret location.
Top tips for staying active
- Make your activities age-related. A four-year old will enjoy the Postman Pat trail whereas a teenager will often need “reward” motivation. Think of motivations that don’t cost you anything, such as letting them have custody of the TV remote control that evening!
- If you have an only child, get them to bring a friend and liaise with the other child’s parent to get yourself some reciprocal child-free time.
- Allow yourself some time off from being an all-singing, all-dancing parent. There will be days when the best thing you can do is curl up with a book or DVD. Don’t feel guilty if you do this sometimes: the secret is variety.
- Ask your children to pool their ideas too. In the school holidays, each child could be in charge of the activities for one day (within the budget!)
- Refreshments: nothing pushes up the cost of an outing more than that drink and snack. Take a bottle of diluted squash, a few plastic cups and some bananas or biscuits.
You may also want to see our How to Eat Well on a Budget article