Let’s get physical – Hop, skip, jump…it’s time to get the kids active!
How physically active is your child? In a digital world where children are spending more and more time looking at screens and less time playing outdoors, the problem of childhood obesity is becoming a growing concern in the UK. It is therefore extremely important to encourage a healthy and active lifestyle from a young age to try and reduce inactivity in children.
Benefits of being active
Improves cardiovascular health
Contributes to healthy weight
Supports social skills
Develops movement and co-ordination
Gives children the opportunity to learn new skills and teaches them important life skills
Strengthens muscles and bones
Helps to develop coordination
Enhances concentration and learning, which increases productivity and success
Makes children feel good and elevates their mood
Inspires positivity and encourages tolerance
Helps to relieve stress and maintain mental and emotional wellbeing
Improves sleep and energy levels
Improves overall health and fitness and helps children maintain a healthy weight to prevent childhood obesity
Children capable of walking, running etc unaided should have 120/150 minutes of physical activity per day, this includes indoor/outdoor play, moving around play areas and home.
Children should not be sedentary for long periods of time other than when resting/sleeping and eating. Periods of physical activity should be broken into small sections throughout the day.
Physical activity can be planned or unplanned such as free play in the garden or structured football session, swimming lessons etc.
Activities for Toddlers and Pre-school
Playing on the park
Riding bikes and scooters
Dancing to music
There are lots of activities for children to be active, these are just a few ideas.
Physical activities for babies and non-mobile children.
Physical activity should be encouraged from birth through floor/knee based activities, allowing babies to stretch out and kick legs encourages muscles and bones to develop. Water activities such as bath time and swimming are good forms of physical activities for babies. Massage for young babies is good for stimulation and encourages movement.
Tummy time for short periods encourages babies to develop skills for rolling, crawling and eventually pulling themselves to walking. This is also important for interaction and social skills.
Reducing time in infant carriers or seat helps increase time they have being physical, and children should be encouraged to walk instead of being pushed/carried wherever possible. Baby walkers or bouncers should only be used for short periods as this limit free movement.
If your child is being active with you and you find an activity you all enjoy as a family, this will also benefit you as a parent, being active especially outdoors in the fresh air will improve your own mental health and well being making some of the more routine activities such as bedtime less challenging and more enjoyable.
Try the physical challenge and enjoy the benefits of less stress and lots of laughter, feeling healthier and having lots more energy to play with your child.