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Six reasons to get the family off the sofa

Don’t be tempted to hibernate in the colder months. Here are six great ways to get the family active and put some colour in their cheeks.

Join the parkrun revolution

Junior parkruns are free 2k runs held in open spaces all over the country each week for children aged 4–14. Older children and adults can sign up for 5k parkruns instead. These welcoming events are great for both new runners and those who want a good race. Find out more at www.parkrun.org.uk.

Go on a modern treasure hunt

If the suggestion of a family hike is met with groans, add in the challenge of a treasure hunt and the kids will be pulling on their wellies in no time. Geocaching is a hugely popular activity in which you follow a GPS map on your mobile to find hidden ‘caches’, which are usually containers such as Tupperware boxes containing a log book and a piece of treasure. Find out more and download the free Geocache app at geocaching.com. Then use an internet-enabled phone to track down one of the 2 million caches worldwide.

Unleash your mini Tarzan

Why not let your little ones get to grips with nature with some tree climbing? Rather than risking falls or, worse, getting stuck on an unreachable branch high up, you could try out Go Ape, which offers adrenaline-filled adventures such as high rope walking and zip trekking in 30 leafy hideouts around the country. Children over 1m in height can participate in some centres, but check out what’s on offer at goape.co.uk.

Try football golf

A new sport that’s popped up in the last couple of years, also known as ‘footgolf’, this is a combination of the two ball sports. Basically it’s like golf with bigger balls that you kick into bigger holes and is surprisingly addictive. For courses near you, see www.ukfootgolf.com.

Stop them climbing the walls…

… and visit a climbing centre instead. While the weather might be dreadful, an indoor family climbing session with an instructor can work at any time of year. Climbing is excellent for building confidence and has the benefit of using pretty much all your muscles as well as your brain to work out the best route up and down. Outdoor climbing is also hugely exhilarating, but needs expert instruction – find out more via the British Mountaineering Council.

Set yourselves a challenge

If the parkrun has whet your appetite, why not set the family a bigger challenge and start training for a duathlon or triathlon? Combining a swim (triathlon only), cycle and run, there are events all over the country. UK Triathlon lists children’s events that have been carefully tailored to ensure they are age appropriate. For example, in triathlons for 7–8-year-olds, there is a 25m swim, a 1km cycle and a 500m run, while 13–16-year-olds are challenged to a 100m swim, a 3km cycle and a 1.5 km run.