12.MAY.2017 5 MIN READ | 5 MIN READ

Find it a chore thinking up activities for your children to do during the school holidays?

Fret not. Here are 9 healthy activities that you can do as a family to strengthen family ties, kill boredom and improve your overall health at the same time. 

Head to a water park 

How better to combat the heat than to spend the day at a water park? The great news is that Singapore has a large variety of them, from the premium ones at Sentosa to the public ones in the heartlands of Singapore. You can even find some located inside a shopping mall near you! Whichever you choose, you can be sure that your children will have a splashing good time. Just be sure to keep your kids well-hydrated and re-apply sunblock regularly! 

Prepare a meal together

Involve your children in the process of whipping up a healthy meal! Pick one of these easy, healthy recipes by dietitians of Mount Elizabeth Hospitals, and let your kid purchase the ingredients and prepare the meal together with you. Aside from being a good time of bonding, it will also pique their interest towards food and help them cultivate healthy eating habits from a young age. If you have young children, you can have them help out in simple ways like plucking leaves off vegetables. 

Go hiking

Your children are probably used to waking up early – even during the holidays. Capitalise on that by bringing them out for early morning hikes. While it’s still cool, head to MacRitchie Reservoir Park with its scenic treetop walk, Punggol Waterway Park where there is a water playground, Pulau Ubin to enjoy a trip back in time and see what Singapore was like before, or any of the other beautiful hiking trails in Singapore.

Hiking is a wonderful cardio workout that can help to build bone health, improve balance and boost your children’s mood. You can also be sure that your children will learn as they take in sights and sounds that they are not usually exposed to. Be sure to bring along some water and healthy snacks to curb any hunger pangs!

Cycle

Hop onto the cycling bandwagon with your children! If your children do not know how to cycle, the holidays will be the perfect opportunity to teach them to lose their training wheels. Similar to hiking, cycling will also improve your children’s bone health. Cycling is also stamina-building and will improve your kids’ heart health. They will also learn to coordinate and balance better. When they finally succeed in balancing on a 2-wheel bicycle, the sense of achievement and confidence that they attain through sheer perseverance will help shape their attitude towards challenges in life.

Organise dance sessions

There will always be days when your kids are extremely fidgety and irritable. If you are reluctant to head out, try putting on some dance music and have them groove to it. An instant mood-lifter, dancing is also a surprisingly intensive workout, and will help shake off their restless energy. The best part is, it will definitely increase their heart rate. Just 30 minutes of daily exercise that increases the heart rate will improve their heart health.

Visit local farms

If you look hard enough, you can find many farms in Singapore to bring your kids to. It will (literally) be a breath of fresh air for your kids to escape from the concrete jungle that is urban Singapore. Your children will be on their feet, trawling through the many offerings that farms have. It will be educational, deepening their understanding of food sources. You will also be able to support local businesses by picking up some organic and locally-grown produce to cook! It will be a win-win situation for all.  

Art jam

Apart from taking care of your kids’ physical health, it is also important to take care of their emotional health. Planning family art jam sessions would be perfect on rainy afternoons, when you want to stop your children from watching any more shows on the tablet. 

Art jamming allows your children to exercise their creativity and express their feelings and thoughts without restraint. A study has shown that creating visual art improves psychological resilience. By the end of the session, you would gain a beautiful collection of art pieces by the family and more emotionally-adjusted children. 

Take fitness classes together

There are a number of places in Singapore offering classes for parents and children. As you set aside a fixed period of time each week to exercise with your children, the time spent together will in turn strengthen your relationship with them. You will also be cultivating the love of an active lifestyle in your children. One study of 4 – 7 year olds found that children with 2 active parents were nearly 6 times more likely to be active, and even if 1 parent is inactive, the children would still be more than 3 times more likely to be active than children with 2 inactive parents. Children who are exposed to a weekly exercise routine are more likely to lead an active lifestyle in future. 

Head to the park/playground

Going to the park or playground would give your children the opportunity of unstructured play time, where they can learn to interact and socialise with other kids their age. The wide space available also allows them to run freely. If you are up for something more elaborate, you can even organise a mini sports day for the kids, including heart-healthy activities like jump rope and more.

Reviewed by Dr Othello Dave, medical reviewer for Health Plus

References

Healthy Eating Habits Start at Home. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/Nutrition/Healthy-Eating-Habits-Start-at-Home_UCM_461862_Article.jsp

Hiking Benefits Heart, Mind, and Body. (n.d.). Retrieved May 12, 2017, from http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/features/hiking-body-mind

Why It's Good to Teach Your Child to Ride a Bike. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://childdevelopmentinfo.com/child-activities/its-as-easy-as-riding-a-bike-why-its-good-to-teach-your-child-to-ride-a-bike/

Exercise Helps Your Heart. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.ghc.org/healthAndWellness/?item=/common/healthAndWellness/conditions/heartDisease/exerciseBenefit.html

How Art Changes Your Brain: Differential Effects of Visual Art Production and Cognitive Art Evaluation on Functional Brain Connectivity. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0101035

Influence of parents' physical activity levels of young children (PDF Download Available). (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/profile/David_Lombardi/publication/21161957

12.MAY.2017