We all know that as a nation we need to be moving more, it’s not just the children.
Our environment has changed, we now live in an obesogenic environment. This means that society has been built to give us everything we want as quickly as possible.
Transport, escalators, local shops that are only down the road (or a 2-minute drive), increased screen time, apps to order takeaways and online food shopping, all promote sedentary behaviour (not moving as much). Everything is designed to be easy and convenient, which is great when we run out of milk, but maybe not so great for long term health.
For our children, this means that they are likely to form habits of moving less, and not achieving the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity per day. Children often tend not to walk places, use stairs or move around as much as they should, and often choose playing on computer games over physical activity play. However, these things are vital for using up energy, for overall physical health and for developing strong muscles that are needed throughout life.
As a parent, it can be tough to get your child on board with physical activity – especially in this digital world. But the earlier you start forming habits, the easier it becomes… and if exercise is not a habit at the moment, it’s never too late to start.
Read on for our top tips for getting your kids moving more…
By encouraging your child to exercise and showing your support, they are far more likely to participate, which can improve confidence & social skills. Talk about exercise as a positive activity, because if you yourself are negative about it, those feelings can transfer to your child’s perception about exercise.
If they resist, show them how it’s done. By being a good role model, getting involved and encouraging exercise you are demonstrating to your child the importance of it.
We all know that it can be difficult to get children off the Xbox, but you could decide on an activity to do together. Use guided choice to find an activity that is fun and enjoyable for you both. For example, a park run or bike ride, a country walk with a healthy picnic or even hula hooping in the garden.
Running app Couch to 5k is a fantastic way for kids and adults alike to get into running. Over 9 weeks, the app will motivate you to run a little bit further each time until you’re able to smash out a 30 minute 5k run!
Parkrun is a great family activity that happens every week, all over the country. Children as young as 4 are able to join in and the whole family can take part together on this 5k run. Children between 4 and 14 are also able to opt for the 2k Junior Parkrun.
You can also encourage your child to join a sports club or activity group. There are numerous benefits from playing sports including: teamwork, dealing with success and failure. discipline, respect, achieving goals and learning from mistakes.
If there is a type of exercise or sport that your child particularly enjoys, from tennis to ballet to horse riding or karate – search the internet for local clubs and take them along to a training session (most clubs allow free taster sessions too).
Ultimately, it’s about trying to encourage children to have fun, be active and be healthy.