Want to help us improve NHS Choices?

Find out more and sign up to our user research panel

Free family activities

Kids have lots of opportunities on holiday to run around and get plenty of exercise. Here are some ideas for healthy activities that cost little or nothing.

Physical activity is essential for your child's health. It helps them develop strong bones and muscles, maintain a healthy weight and promotes their independence. Most of all, physical activity can be great fun for you and your children.

Wherever you live in the UK, there are plenty of opportunities for you and your family to be active in your area.

Walking, running around and playing

Make time for outings to a green space near you, such as a local park, wood or nature reserve, and get the kids walking, running and playing. If you want to try somewhere new, use the following websites to search for options near you.

Green Flag parks

The Green Flag scheme recognises parks, community gardens and nature reserves that are welcoming, clean and well maintained. Go to Green Flag Award to find your nearest award-winning parks or reserves.

Woods and forests

To find out about woods and forests near you and the activities on offer this summer, see the Woodland Trust and Forestry Commission websites.

Accessible walks

To find walks that are accessible for people pushing buggies and for wheelchair users, see Walks with Buggies and Walks with Wheelchairs

For more information on why walking is good for you and tips for making it fun, see the Walk4Life website.

Cycling

Strictly speaking, cycling is not free, since you need a bike before you can start pedalling. However, once you have the right equipment, it's a very cheap form of exercise and one that can be enjoyed by all ages.

With more free time available in the holidays, it's a chance to go on a longer bike ride. The following websites offer suggestions for family-friendly routes.

Sustrans

Sustrans co-ordinates the National Cycle Network, which offers thousands of miles of walking and cycle routes on traffic-free paths and quiet lanes, as well as traffic-calmed minor roads across the UK. Visit the Sustrans website to find cycle routes near you.

Forestry Commission

You can use the Forestry Commission’s website to search for cycle trails in woods and forests.

Cycling tips

If you're new to cycling or haven’t cycled for a long time, take a look at our guide to cycling for beginners.

You could also consider enrolling on a cycling training course. Visit Bikeability for more information on the national standard training scheme.

For more information on why cycling is a great way to stay healthy, along with tips on buying a bike and staying safe, see the Change4Life website.

Swimming

Swimming can be a great way to get active as a family. Swim4Life has ideas for games you can play together in the pool.

Visit these websites to find somewhere near you where you can have fun with the kids.

Local swimming pools

Some local councils offer free swimming to children aged 16 and under, particularly during the school holidays. Search for your local council to find out if this is available in your area.

RNLI

A day at the seaside won't break the bank, but 7,000 visitors a year get into serious trouble at the beach. It's wise to visit a beach with trained lifeguards. Find out which beaches have RNLI lifeguards.

Outdoor Swimming Society

Open water swimming can be dangerous, but you can search for family-friendly places to swim outdoors on the Outdoor Swimming Society website. Note that not all the pools listed are free to use.

 

Cycling training

See Louise Parminter learning how to ride a bike and gain the confidence to cycle on any road.

Media last reviewed: 09/01/2015

Next review due: 09/01/2017

Page last reviewed: 06/07/2015

Next review due: 06/07/2017

Ratings

How helpful is this page?

Average rating

Based on 6 ratings

All ratings

Add your rating

Comments

Services near you

Find addresses, phone numbers and websites for services near you

Get healthy as a family

10 ways to involve the whole family in keeping children in trim including activity holidays and eating together

Healthy holidays

How to keep your family healthy during the summer holidays. Includes beach safety, camping safety and free activities

Claire James, 12

Real story: hiking for fitness

Is your child active enough? Find out how 12-year-old Claire got fit and had fun when she took up walking with her parents

Benefits of exercise

Find out why 150 minutes of physical activity every week can greatly improve your health