Easy ways to be less of a couch potato

New research suggests we are a nation of couch potatoes, despite wanting to spend more time outdoors with loved ones.

The national survey, commissioned by Yates, took an inside peek into how we spend time with each other around our own homes. The research revealed that Aussies want to spend more time in their gardens, patios and balconies, but are still ending up on the couch in front of the TV.

When it comes to spending quality time with family and friends, more than a third of people prefer to do so in the lounge or TV room, compared to around 15 percent in backyards or outdoor dining areas.

Busy lifestyles are partly to blame for our bad habits, with four out of 10 Aussies admitting they wished they had more time to spend with loved ones outdoors at home. Parents are also concerned about how much time their kids are spending in front of screens, believing it to be an unhealthy habit.

Here are some tips to get your family outside and enjoying time together in the garden.

Play a game of backyard cricket. The whole family gets involved and you can create a bit of friendly competition by playing the kids against the parents in teams.

Make your own croquet green. You can make some hoops out of wire coat hangers, push them into the lawn and try to hit a tennis ball along the ground through the hoops with a cricket bat, assuming you don’t have a croquet mallet. Time how long it takes to get the ball through all the hoops.

Set up a bocce court and play a game in teams or as individuals. You can buy a bocce set from sport stores or online. If the little kids struggle with the distance, let them throw from a special line in front of the adults.

Planting a veggie patch can be a great outside bonding experience, and one of the few times you’ll enjoy getting dirty. The best part is watching your vegetables grow and until they are ready for harvest, then enjoying them for lunch or dinner. Even planting a few herb pots creates enjoyment and responsibility for keeping them growing.

An associated activity to planting a vegetable garden is to build your own family worm farm. All you need are a few household items like a large plastic bottle and cling wrap, sand, soil, leaves and earthworms from your garden. The result is extra compost for your vegetables and a bit of intrigue watching your worm society.