Becoming a parent means a lifetime of worry. Are they happy? Are they safe? Are they developing as they should and at the same rate as their peers? Will they ever stop watching re-runs of Bob the Builder? Topping everything however in the parental wish list is the issue of good health. We all want our children to be healthy and one of the biggest areas of concern we’re facing is the growing level of obesity among the younger generation. The UK is facing an obesity crisis and the latest stats from the Department of Public Health regarding children and weight make for sober reading. Of children in Reception (aged 4 – 5), 21.9% are either overweight or obese. By the time children hit Year 6 (aged 10 – 11), this figure has increased to 33.3%. Put simply this means that over a fifth of 4 – 5 year olds and a whopping third of 10 – 11 year olds are overweight or obese.
So, how do we ensure that our children don’t add to these terrifying statistics? The concept seems simple: along with encouraging healthy eating we teach our children to move their bodies. However, with children currently spending an average of four hours a day watching screens, this generation has never been more sedentary, so getting them out and about can be an uphill struggle. Children aged 6 and above need at least an hour of physical activity each day and it’s never to late to create positive habits around exercise. Read on for our top hints and tips to help keep your kids active.
Fun for Free
Park Life – most communities have a park at their heart. These are great locations for activity. Children’s playgrounds contain climbing walls and frames, slides and swings, while many parks also boast trim trails or all-weather equipment such as all-weather.
On the ball – ball games are a great way to up the activity levels. Take a ball into your back yard, garden or the local park and have a good kick around.
Dance it up – put some music on your stereo or crank up the radio and dance around your living room for 15 – 20 minutes. Kids love to learn simple dance routines and will have great fun performing them to you.
Garden games – make use of any outside space you can have to let them have safe, active fun in the fresh air. Why not create a home-made obstacle course or gymkhana jumps to hop over. Failing that, chalk a hopscotch grid on the patio.
Head for the beach – a stint on the sand leads children to be naturally active. They’ll play and run around for hours, or, in fairer weather, swim or surf.
Get on your bikes – if you own bikes then this is another free activity. If not, head for a green space where you can hire them.
Swimming – swimming is a great way to keep kids on the move. Most leisure centres offer family swimming sessions at low prices.
Soft play centres – younger kids love soft play centres with nets to climb and tunnels to explore.
Jump to it – a trampoline is an amazing addition to a garden or yard and there are sizes to suit any space. Trampolining is an aerobic workout and builds core stability.
Get a scooter – scooting is one craze which doesn’t seem to get old and is enjoyed by kids of any age from toddlers to teens. Scooters can be purchased from most bike stores or online. There are great offers on auction websites, too. Once they’re wheel-borne, look for flat paved spaces or, for older kids, skate parks.
Join a club – encourage your child to try new sports or activities such as football, cricket, rugby, horse-riding, dance or skating.
Get (or borrow a dog) – owning a dog is a great way to get kids out in the fresh air. If you don’t have your own pet, sites like borrowmydoggy.com allow access to dogs without the full-time responsibility.
Build activity into your daily life – take every opportunity to walk, bike or scoot to school, into town or to the park.
Limit screen time – set a good example by limiting your own screen time and ensure your kids have dedicated time where they are off interactive devices.
Make things fun for your family – get active together, take on challenges like charity walks or runs and celebrate milestones by doing something active like going for a family bike ride or a swim.