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Fun and games in the garden

Summer at last! Time for both young and old to adjourn to the garden. It's no wonder that everyone's ready for it - winter was long and spring rather up and down. People with their own garden or access to green spaces nearby are in their element: A garden is a perfect family-friendly fitness centre - the keep-fit trail starts right outside your back door! And the whole family can join in. So enjoy spending time outside. Here are a few incentives and tips to help you get fit and have fun.

This is a World Cup year! So why not get a ball yourself and get your muscles and reflexes into shape? Practice keeping the ball in the air using alternate knees. Or dribble the ball across the garden. Have fun playing football with the kids - use some twine, for example, to mark the goalposts and off you go: Who's going to score the first goal?

Kids love hopping and skipping. Bouncy castles or trampolines with protective netting are great for expressing this need to move. The stamina children have when it comes to bouncing can sometimes be astonishing. But bouncing is not only good for kids - adults can use a trampoline too. Regular exercise can significantly improve fitness and stamina.

30 minutes of exercise every day is enough to keep you fit and healthy. It has been scientifically proven that moderate, individually tailored sporting activity ensures optimum cardio-vascular function (Cooper Institute Dallas/Texas). The Deutsche Institut für Bluthochdruck-Forschung [German Institute of Blood Pressure Research] in Heidelberg has reached similar conclusions: At least 40% of patients with high blood pressure only suffer from this life-threateningly condition because they are exposed to physical stress. Excessive physical exercise would only make the problem worse. Relaxing activities which place a moderate strain on the body and release the mind and soul are best.

A quieter garden activity which is just as much fun is skittles: First, position nine empty bottles. Then work out with your kids (or friends) how many turns each person will have. Use a ball to take turns to try and knock the bottles down. The winner is the person who has knocked down the most bottles once all rounds are complete. Tip: If you don't write the scores down and each person mentally records his or her own score, you will also be giving your brain some exercise.

Another good game for the family to play in the garden is badminton. However, to play this you need a relatively large garden or a larger forecourt area. All you need to buy are the rackets - a washing line can be run between two trees for the net. You pick the teams and off you go - great fun for all the family!

So: Get out in the garden and enjoy moving around in the fresh air. Your body will thank you!