Loughborough Echo - - HEALTH & LIFESTYLE - Michelle Childs is health de­vel­op­ment man­ager at Life Leisure sports trust,

Get­ting the whole fam­ily in­volved will not only in­crease en­joy­ment but will be a fun way for every­one to burn off calo­ries

L ET’S face it, it’s not just your bank ac­count that will have taken a bat­ter­ing this Christ­mas. There are so many temp­ta­tions on of­fer, you’d have to be a saint to have re­sisted let­ting your hair down and en­joy­ing all the tasty treats on of­fer.

And with an av­er­age of 4,000 calo­ries con­sumed on Christ­mas Day, you don’t need me to add to your guilt trip.

What I can do is sug­gest some of the ways you can com­bat the full tummy, work off some of those ex­tra calo­ries and en­joy days to­gether as a fam­ily be­fore the kids go back to school. GET OUT­DOORS CHANCES are at least one of your chil­dren will get some out­door play equip­ment from Fa­ther Christ­mas this year.

Rather than send­ing them out into the back gar­den to ex­per­i­ment with their new toys alone, join them. Get­ting the whole fam­ily in­volved will not only in­crease en­joy­ment but will be a fun way for every­one to burn off calo­ries.

A brisk 30-minute walk can burn off as much as 150 calo­ries, so even if Santa hasn’t brought bikes, scoot­ers, cricket sets or foot­balls, the fam­ily can still ben­e­fit from mov­ing to­gether. WHEELIE GOOD HOL­I­DAYS BIKES are a great way to get out to­gether. Whether it’s cy­cling to the lo­cal park or tak­ing a trip along the canal, Sus­trans (sus­ has lots of dif­fer­ent fam­ily-friendly cy­cle routes.

If cy­cling isn’t for you, why not run along­side your kids as they pedal or scoot? Kids will love play­ing out and your in­ter­ac­tion will only make it more fun for all of you. START AS YOU MEAN TO GO ON WHILE it’s tempt­ing to let the kids watch TV or play on their new tablets – es­pe­cially when the weather is bad – now is the time to get into good habits.

The av­er­age UK child spends more than 17 hours a week in front of a de­vice, so lim­it­ing their usage from the start will help you all stick to the rules.

A trea­sure hunt is a great way of coax­ing your kids away from their screens. You don’t need to hunt for sweets or prizes, you could look for land­marks or fol­low clues to a friend’s house.

If it’s rain­ing, hide clues or trea­sure around the house and gar­den. The im­por­tant thing is that you will be off the sofa and on your feet for at least an hour or so.

An­other great ac­tiv­ity is search­ing for painted peb­bles. There are lots of Face­book groups let­ting you know where peb­bles can be found in your area.

Why not paint your own on a rainy day and chal­lenge fam­ily and friends to find them around the house, gar­den or park? You can even time groups to see who finds them first – en­cour­ag­ing every­one to move faster!

If you have older chil­dren who are sim­ply too en­grossed in their de­vices, why not try geo­caching with them? It’s a mod­ern form of trea­sure hunt where you fol­low GPS co­or­di­nates to find the ‘geo­cache’. It’s a fan­tas­tic way to keep the whole fam­ily both men­tally and phys­i­cally ac­tive. All you need to do is down­load the app (geo­ and choose a trea­sure trail to fol­low. Each trail is graded so you can choose one to suit your group’s abil­ity. FAM­ILY SPORT EX­ER­CISE it­self might not pique your chil­dren’s in­ter­est, but a sports or swim­ming ses­sion un­doubt­edly will. An af­ter­noon in the pool will do the whole fam­ily the world of good. Or you could book a bad­minton or games court and en­joy play­ing to­gether as a fam­ily. As pools and courts are in­doors, there’s no get­ting rained off by the win­ter weather!

Lots of leisure cen­tres, play cen­tres and com­mu­nity groups also pro­vide ac­tiv­i­ties over the hol­i­day pe­riod, so it’s worth check­ing out what is go­ing on around you. TAKE ON A CHAL­LENGE DE­SPITE shorter days and in­clement weather, there are al­ways plenty of or­gan­ised run­ning and walk­ing ac­tiv­i­ties tak­ing place in your lo­cal parks and leisure cen­tres.

As well as help­ing build stamina and en­durance, stud­ies show that run­ning and walk­ing are real mood boost­ers that can help kids (in­clud­ing the big ones) feel more care­free. CLEAN­ING! NOT many of us rel­ish the idea of clean­ing up af­ter Christ­mas.

But what if I told you that scrub­bing the bath­room will help burn up to 250 calo­ries an hour, and vac­u­um­ing 175? As long as you put enough ef­fort in to raise your heart rate, make you breathe faster and feel warmer, you are do­ing your­self some good.

Why not make clean­ing an ex­cit­ing game for the whole fam­ily? You can even use pocket money or days out as a mo­ti­va­tional tool – the more hands, the quicker it will take!

Geo­caching is a mod­ern trea­sure hunt

A trip to the baths will burn off fes­tive fat

Vac­u­um­ing can burn 150 calo­ries an hour

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