On the long-awaited, hard-earned vacation, families look to recharge their batteries, strengthen bonds and create memories. Adults and children might have different ways of enjoying the long awaited holiday. In adults, what might be sorely needed is a simple break from the hustle-bustle of work life -a quiet romantic dinner or a beach chair and a book may suffice, or a spa session and an anti-age caviar massage- but the children are a different matter altogether. The little ones often need to stay active.

Sports have long been an ideal way to keep children engaged and happy, lowering their levels of stress and keeping their developing brains stimulated. And learning a new sport on a holiday creates meaningful experiences, creating real benefits for the kids, especially if those newly acquired sports skills can be practiced at home once the vacation is over.  And while on holiday, any of Iberostar´s family-run resorts and surrounding areas provide an ideal locale for young athletes to break a sweat, whether it be in their own stadiums, arenas or training camps.

At holiday destinations around the world, there is a variety of new activities for the children to learn, activities that can easily be developed later. Whether they be on land or in the water, on the resort property or on a jungle trail, at the gym or the backyard, take advantage of the surroundings and get the kids moving in a fun way.

Running

The importance of play has been proven to be essential in the development of children and strengthening the bonds between parents and kids. Regardless of the type of play, one common aspect remains essential: running. But of course treadmills and half-marathons are unlikely to suffice, and one might be hard pressed to get the children running just for its own sake. Find games that integrate running into the activity.

Get resourceful and get outside! Resorts located on the beach are ideal for spontaneous running sports.

Kids love races, so create a water bucket relay using a cup (or even a big seashell). The racers run to the sea and fill the bucket with the cup and run back to empty it. Organized beach soccer, like that organized for kids by Iberostar’s StarCamp staff, is of course a versatile sport that can utilize different numbers of players, and playing on the sand strengthens ankles and develops balance.

Play sand hopscotch or run through a makeshift obstacle course using those inner tube floats or kick up a game of beach volleyball. Tug-of-war and simple running games involving squirt guns are always a hit. On the beach, consider running as a means to an end, and think of all the sports that require constant scurrying around. So keep in mind that the beach is a place that inspires both relaxation and activity.

Off the sand, running with a purpose in natural surroundings can be exhilarating. At Iberostar’s Bávaro Suites in the Dominican Republic, as well as in their Mayan Riviera Paraíso Complex, outdoor running programs are offered for adults, but children and parents can take advantage of the trails and panoramic views on the resort grounds.

 

Beyond poolside

There are many advantages to water sports, especially those which are done in popular, easy to access places like swimming pools. Many pre-adolescents and youngsters seem to find endless fun in the pool, and their enthusiasm can be encouraged with countless spontaneous water games. The options range well beyond races down the designated lanes, with activities like mermaid races, games with ping pong balls, scavenger hunts and games with floating props like basketball and “noodle jousts” with inflatable mattresses.

AquaFit classes offered by the hotel are often great for kids, especially in the shallower parts of the pool, and utilize floats and weights in an engaging way that capitalizes on the fun of being in the water and splashing around with others. They also hone a kid´s skills of concentration. And for teenagers and young adults, some spin classes--led by an energetic trainer--are offered on cycles submerged in water at the Iberostar Bávaro Complex. The advantage of pool sports is their versatility: they can be done in the hotel pool, the sea or in the local city pool at home. And they take on a special family significance if they are learned while on holiday.

Snorkel, mask and fins

Fewer kids’ sports better connect life on the land to the exciting wonders underwater. Appropriate for all ages and experience levels, snorkeling can be practiced anywhere from shallow tide pools to deeper marine areas, and it’s a great way to build confidence in those children who may not be so comfortable in the water. It’s excellent exercise too, as it builds muscles, stamina and cardiovascular strength, and it is easy on the joints and ligaments. This amateur sport requires only basic equipment—snorkel, mask and fins—and often easily rented at resort beaches.

But the biggest payoff in snorkeling is what is found just under the surface: a world of tranquility and wildlife. Schools of shining fish and coral reefs are just the beginning. Along the coast of the Mayan Riviera and at hotels in Cozumel island, sea turtles, rays and even giant, docile whale sharks call this aqua paradise home. Floating on the surface, yet feeling the sensation of breathing underwater amongst exotic wildlife, the young ones find endless thrills in snorkeling.

 

Bows and arrows

The novelty of archery can be stimulating for young ones. Every kid has seen their hero archers in action in movies like The Hunger Games and in superheroes like Hawkeye and The Green Arrow, and some children who may not be enthusiastic about team running sports could take on a more sedentary activity which relies on precision and patience.

With professional instruction, children learn the importance of rules, and improve their skills of focus and self-discipline. Practiced indoors or outside, the physical exertion of pulling the bow builds arm, chest and back muscles, and improves balance and overall physical coordination. Skills in a sports like archery instill a unique sense of accomplishment and self-confidence in young people, and could be the beginning of a long-term hobby that can be practiced back home. Check out the hotel’s activities program and add something new to your child’s quiver of abilities.