Active adventures

Springtime in Christchurch is green, sunny and warm, so TOM AND JAMIE HART look at ways to head outside and add incidental exercise into any child’s day.

Statistically, over 30 per cent of Kiwi kids are now overweight or obese. As we know, exercise through play can significantly reduce the risk of childhood obesity and is a fun way to keep our kids healthy.

Unfortunately, we sometimes experience resistance from children when we try to turn off the screens and get active. So here are some springtime tips and tricks to introduce them to exercise — minus the fuss.

  • Head out for a family bike ride! There are heaps of cool tracks that are close to Christchurch with dedicated bike tracks for all members of the family, including: Hagley Park, Bottle Lake Forest, and the recently reopened Christchurch Adventure Park. The Cycling Christchurch website (cyclingchristchurch.co.nz) also has a cool suburban guide if you are looking for somewhere closer to home.
  • Playgrounds in Christchurch have never been better. Visit the Margaret Mahy Family Playground — it’s the largest playground in the Southern Hemisphere and is full of cool equipment and gadgets. Let the kids enjoy the amenities, or bring a soccer ball or frisbee for a game in the park — good for their health, and yours!
  • Wander around an animal park and pat the farmyard animals at Willowbank, Orana Park or Arion Farm. The whole family can rack up the kilometres around the park while enjoying the sights. Do you have an animal lover at home interested in becoming a zookeeper? Willowbank has a school holiday programme — become a Junior Keeper! Children aged 11-14 can work with a keeper to look after the animals: getting their hands dirty by feeding the animals, and cleaning out their enclosures. Details are on their website, with lunch and a t-shirt included. Costs $70 per child.
  • Get creative at home with chalk — draw up a hopscotch, four-square or even a maze on your driveway for a fun afternoon. Find your child’s inner artist. Google cool chalk art ideas or try a creative experiment with easy 3D illusions.
  • Forage in the Red Zone – hunt and gather with the family and bring home edible treasures! Check out the Ōtautahi Urban Foraging group on Facebook for their online map of over 1800 fruit and nut trees. Take care with the littlies as the land is not always level!
  • Some gyms have indoor active play programmes designed to help with mobility, strength and confidence. Best for kids that have excess energy to burn!

Tom and Jamie Hart are passionate about getting families active! huddlegroupfitness.com