Healthy Town: 50 ways for all the family to get a little healthier
The 2018 Pfizer Healthy Town initiative is on a mission to improve health in Wexford Town. Here are 50 simple ways to incorporate exercise into your daily life
Any cleaning, tidying or gardening activity helps to burn energy. Photograph: iStock
Everyone knows that parents are their child’s best teacher and they should always lead by example. So with obesity amongst children in Ireland at a worrying level, the best lesson parents can teach is how to get fit and stay fit.
Fitness is a very important aspect of the Pfizer Healthy Town programme with groups all over the community getting together to walk, run, cycle and get up and get moving.
Dr Julie Broderick, assistant professor in physiotherapy, Trinity College Dublin, has some simple ways to incorporate exercise into your daily life.
- Take the stairs rather than the lift.
- Run up and down the stairs any spare minute you can.
- At work, try alternating to a standing desk every so often.
- Walk around if possible, when talking on the phone or reading.
- While on the phone and seated, do leg lifts to strengthen abs.
- Have your printing routed to a printer in another room so you have to move each time to collect printed material.
- Have ‘walk-and-talk’ meetings.
- Take a short walk at lunchtime, or a run if there are showering facilities available.
- Move around every 45 minutes, stretch at your desk, or even walk to the water cooler to refill your bottle.
- Walk or cycle to work as often as possible.
- If you drive, park as far as possible from the door .
- At home, get up and move during TV ad breaks. Climb the stairs if possible.
- Remember that any gardening activity or cleaning/tidying your house burns energy.
- Most songs last three minutes, so march on the spot or dance about for the duration of one song.
- At home, do some planks and hold for as long as you can.
- Put your feet apart and do deep knee bends as if you’re sitting down on an invisible box. Put your arms out. Make sure your knees don’t extend past your toes.
- Do crunches instead of sit ups - similar, but not all the way from floor to knee - just curl your chest towards your knees.
- Try lunging by taking a step, then touching your back knee to the floor while making sure your front knee doesn’t extend past the toes.
- Push-ups can be tough but make sure to keep your stomach tight and back straight. They can be done with a bent or straight knee or just using your upper body standing up, leaning into a wall.
- Side leg raises - even the youngest member of the family will be able to do this one.
- Bundle up and out for a walk - once a day but if not possible, at least three times a week.
- Have a dance party with the kids - crank up the music and dance around the kitchen (your teenagers might not be impressed).
- Skipping is great fun for all the family.
- Try rollerblading. It's good for posture and core, as well as keeping fit.
- Good old fashioned tag will bring out your inner child and allow you to engage with your kids.
- Burpees can be more difficult for adults as they involve a squat with hands to the ground, then kicking your legs behind you landing on your toes. This is followed by a push-up, bringing your legs up behind you and jumping off the floor.
- Musical creepy crawlies is for smaller children. Get everyone to lie on the floor and move their arms and legs in the air in time to the music.
- Cleaning windows are a great way to build up a sweat and will help to save money too.
- On the housekeeping note, vacuuming, mopping and sweeping are all great ways to get jobs done and keep the whole family in shape.
- Avoid the lazy load and instead take several trips up and down the stairs to delivery laundry, or in and out to the car to collect shopping.
- Do squats while emptying the dishwasher.
- Balance on one leg. It's great for core and posture.
- Try wall-sitting by putting your back against the wall and sliding down so your knees are bent. This is good for thigh and glute muscles.
- While in the car, bus, train or even watching TV hold your stomach in for as long as possible. This will strengthen your core.
- Set an alarm every hour and get everyone in the house moving, even if it’s just for a few minutes of hopping, jumping or running around.
- Follow a fairy walk (and knock on the fairy doors) in Wells house (Wexford), Slieve Gullion Forest Park (South Armagh).
- Climb a manageable hill such as Killiney Hill in Dublin.
- Go to the swimming pool together. It’s a great activity for all.
- Many playgrounds have adult outdoor exercise equipment as well such as Tymon Park, Tallaght - there's something for everyone.
- Walk around interesting parks such as Dun na Sí Heritage Park in Moate, Co Westmeath.
- Bicycle together on some of the many cycle lanes now available, such as the new Waterford Greenway.
- Choose ‘active toys’ for presents such as a ball, bat, scooter or kite, and head to the park with them.
- Play active games with children in the garden or park such as ‘tag’, ‘hide and seek’, or play a game of football.
- Team up for gardening. Get the kids to grow, water and tend to their own items - something simple like peas.
- Turn simple tasks into a game and keep time, such as taking the shopping to the kitchen, opening the back door, getting the washing basket.
- Make the TV room a ‘no-food zone’. This will prevent mindless snacking.
- Sign up for 2km Junior Park Run in some locations around the country, such as Marlay Park, Rathfarnham or St Anne’s Park, Clontarf in Dublin.
- When kids are at activities such as GAA practice, take the time to walk or jog in the vicinity.
- Time is always of the essence, so start with a 10 to 20 minute exercise every morning and evening. It could be anything from a walk before school to a skip before dinner.
- Instead of sweet treats, reward yourself and your family with an activity such as bowling, swimming or a game of tag.
For more on Healthy Town, see www.facebook.com/HealthyTownIreland