School's out! Simple healthy fixes to keep your kids amused

The six-week summer break is a long stretch to juggle childcare and tear your kids away from technology, but also a fantastic chance for parents to combat unhealthy habits while spending quality time with their children.

A staggering 30% of under-16s are now obese, despite government guidelines recommending one hour of exercise per day, and three active hours for pre-schoolers.

Without the frantic deadlines of the school run, why not seize your holiday time for family bonding and fitness by trying the tips below.

Get physical

Park Runs are free weekly 5km race events for all abilities that take place across the UK. Visit their website to find your nearest one. Some areas also hold shorter junior park runs of 2 km to inspire the whole family. Saturday morning events are a great way to start the weekend and the atmosphere is infectious.

Teddy bears' picnic

Younger children will enjoy the idea of taking their favourite toys along for an old-fashioned picnic in the park, especially if you get them involved in preparing nutritious snacks such as fruit kebabs. Research local picnic areas to help you resist fast food and seek out unspoiled beaches that are far from amusement arcades and sugary temptations.

Free fun

Sports day may be fresh in school children's minds, with younger siblings eager to join in, so set up an athletics challenge in your back garden or local park, using buckets and boxes as obstacles. Help them design a race course and medals, and rope in friends to compete in relays. Under-10s will also love devising treasure hunts.

Think local

Scour the web and your local library for low-cost organised activities to build your kids' confidence. Summer sport camps are growing in popularity, but there are often short taster courses and free programmes run by local churches, museums, councils and theatre groups to help young people discover new talents and form friendships. Socialising can have huge benefits to a child's mental health.

Great outdoors

If your kids turn their noses up at a summer stroll, why not find the closest country park to hire bikes for the whole family to get fit? A recent global study found children's physical exercise directly linked to brain development and enhancing academic performance. So such adventures are doing far more than passing the time. Any excuse to ditch the car is also good, so look out for special offers on public transport trips to the coast and green spaces.


Denise is a freelance parenting, travel and features journalist. Follow her on twitter: @nisecmarshall