4 ways to encourage your child to get physically active now.
Did you know, according to the most recent British Heart Foundation (2015) report, only 1 in 10 children in England are meeting the BHF recommended levels of activity? Both my children are still quite young ( 1 - 3.5 years ) and there are guidelines since 2012 to encourage physical activity in our children from birth. BHF recommend kids aged 2 – 4 do 180 minutes or more daily on all 7 days per week. So activity like walking, running and playing are all included in this recommendation. But why are we seeing a decline in our children participating in sport and exercise overall? The problem seems to be starting at a very young age. I’m realising more and more, as a mum of 2 young boys myself, the power of influence as parents, guardians and leaders of our children. Seems like such a simple concept to lead by example as role models but in practice it’s far more complex. However, the fact is, a positive change starts with us and at home.
So how can we help encourage our kids to see exercise and being healthy as just a normal and fun part of growing up? What can we do to help them? Personally, I love the idea of encouraging our boys to make healthier choices in food and physical activity, but I believe in providing some balance for them also. I’ve learned first hand that involving our boys in our exercise routines and cooking has already made a positive impact in their young lives, and long may that continue.
Here are 4 things you could try this Christmas holidays to help ignite or further boost your children’s interest and passions in sport and being active.
1. Show them the way, early!
As the saying goes ' be the change you want to see in the world '. Be the role model from the get go. If you commit to being fit and healthy yourself, your kids will see this as something to follow and respect too. It’s never too late, however it’s certainly easier to install a good habit earlier on in their lives. Having things like a skipping rope, yoga mat, football and foam roller around the house are great ‘toys’ for them to play with too. But also participating in sporting events and games together counts for a lot. Show them how to practice good sportsmanship.
2. Pressure off, keep it fun.
If an activity or sport is fun for my kids, they are more likely to do it again and again. Celebrate their curiosity and development, every child is different. I’ve found that my boys just want us to play with them and turn exercise into a game. The more fun we have the easier I find it to encourage them to participate and try new things.
3. Monitor screen time.
This is always such a controversial subject. And I’m still that parent that says “what ever works!” Personally, we allow our kids to watch TV and play with screens, however we also believe in keeping the usage low and encourage play as much as possible. I’ve seen first hand the difference in Charlie ( 3.5yrs ) when he’s had too much time watching a screen vs. physical activity. It ain’t pretty!
4. Trial and error.
Most of us don't know what sport or exercise we like until we try it right? And not all of us have the ability to try everything in our lifetime. However, there are all sorts of charities, clubs, associations and schools set up all over the UK ( and many other countries ) to help introduce children to sport with the aim for them to walk away feeling empowered to ‘own’ a sport they enjoy. There is one particular charity in the UK I am working with that is doing just that! Super cool. sportinspired.org
Would love to hear about what you do to encourage your children to be fit and healthy? Please comment below.