Monthly Archives: March 2020

Let’s get moving!!
8 Simple hacks to make it easier for parents to help their children get active!!

We’ve talked about the importance of parents input when it comes to children and young people being physically active in our last blog – Today, we’re are focussing on simple ways to promote regular exercise with your children that can incorporated into their lives.
The barriers can seem daunting and setting aside time for physical activity – whether for yourself or your kids – can often seem impossible. However, being physically active does not need to involve long trips to the gym or blocks of time at the leisure centre – it can be much easier than that.
These are some simple hacks and tips that can make it seem a bit more possible:
Start As Early As Possible
The earlier a child is encouraged to be physically active, the greater the impact and benefits will be. The benefit of being physically active early in a child’s life keeps the body strong and healthy and improves mental health. Physical activity also improves focus, energy levels, and sleep. Those who undertake regular physical activity enjoy improved relationships and a healthier body composition.
 Do Tiny Things Every Day
If you incorporate physical activity throughout the day, it lessens the stress that may come along with it and it frees you up from the burden of trying to find a block of 60 minutes in which to be active. Equally, even tiny incremental changes can have a big impact. Small adjustments in your routine are the ideal way to do this. Examples include:
o Parking further away from your destination and walking the rest of the way (e.g., school, shops or sport club)
o Walking, scooting or biking to and from school
o Before school, you could dance around in the living room
o Get children to help out around the house by getting them to clean their room, rake leaves in the yard, wash the car or sweep the walks. Make it feel fun with upbeat music
o Turn commercial breaks into fitness breaks when you’re watching TV. Just enough time for jumping jacks, running up and down the stairs and high knees.
o Take a walk before or after dinner.
 Record Your Activities – and Reward Your Achievements!
Keeping a log to track what physical activity you and your children is a fun and simple way to challenge and engage children.
And it has two benefits – it allows you to see what you have done, and lets you provide rewards for everyone when they do well!
A log doesn’t need equipment such as Fitbit or pedometers – in fact, if you are trying to get your children away from screens it can be better not to! A log can be a simple thing – even a chart on the fridge can work! And anything can be recorded, such as:
o Number of times you walked or biked to school
o Number of times you played a game in the garden
o Number of times you played outside with your siblings or friends
o The number of minutes you were active doing these activities every day
o Total number of activities performed throughout the day or week
 Mix it up
Any activity is good, but sometimes the conventional ones – walking through the park, going for a bike ride – can seem the most straightforward. However, children can get bored with these, particularly if they have shorter attention spans or are missing their screens. So you can find fun ways to keep their attention whilst doing it. For example:
o Re-enacting a favourite story whilst doing the activity, such an adventure sequence from a film or an activity from a computer game
o Taking photos at regular intervals, you will be surprised how much walking can be done without realising it and it fun too.
o Asking them to describe their surroundings or making up tales about them.
 Make It Social
There are often many programmes for physical activity, both based at school (eg after school clubs) or in your local community (eg local rugby clubs, local leisure centres). These provide activities for children in groups, thereby adding a potentially enjoyable social element.
Even if your child doesn’t have a particularly strong interest in sport, they might enjoy the social side of meeting and playing with other children. If they are doing activities with other children they like, they may not even notice that they are doing physical activity. But it will still count towards their reward!
And you can use existing social events to add physical activity. For example, birthday parties can be held at facilities such as climbing walls etc and can include anything from football events to Frisbee! They might have been at a birthday party all afternoon but they could have been active all that time as well!
 Try Everything
Children very rarely settle early on one activity they want to specialise in. It is more likely that they will enjoy one activity for a while, and then get attracted to something else. This is normal and potentially highly beneficial. Recent studies have shown that focusing on one activity early increases the risk of burnout and disillusionment and reduces the chance of success. It can also increase the chances of quitting the sport altogether, as they become weighed down with years of arduous training and less social freedom than their peers.
Meanwhile, athletes who pick a single sport later have longer to try a range of them—which means they can pick the one that is the best fit, rather than a discipline that they have been ushered towards by early growth or ambitious parents. They can also benefit from new skills learned in other games.
So if your child doesn’t like or loses interest in one activity, there will undoubtedly be others they can engage with. Don’t be discouraged if it seems your child doesn’t like some particularly clubs or activities – there is always something else out there! So explore together – you never know what you might find – for you as well as them!
 Keep It Fun
It is fine to encourage physical activity as long as it is fun and enjoyable.
If it becomes torture then it is counterproductive and will result in a child that is anti-sports. I compare it to parents who force children to learn and instrument only for the child to grow up and shun it.
 Be a role model
So your own behaviour as parent influences your child’s behaviour. If children see their parents valuing physical activity, it is highly likely they will do so too.
But this does not mean that they need to see you running a marathon every weekend. It simply means that it will help if they see that you value physical activity – whether as a hobby, or a daily routine, or something to enjoy on an informal basis. Even watching sport (e.g., on television) can encourage children to take an interest in it – and potentially try it out!

“Don’t do as I do, do as I say.”
Let’s get physical!

We have all been told this before by our parents. More often than not (and infuriatingly!) it turns out to the truth in the end.
This is because we emulate our parents’ behaviour, whether we like it or not. Parents are the biggest single source of influence in a child’s life. Children look to their parents as an example of how to live, and can develop their lifelong habits by modelling their parental behaviour.
This is true in all aspects of life – and physical activity is one of them.
Parental support of healthy habits in a child’s life will pay a lifetime of dividends. This is particularly so in the early years. Encouraging children to be active from a young age sets good habits early on and helps them develop the skills they need to stay active throughout their lives.
Hence, parental support, which can take many forms, is vital in increasing physical activity participation among children and helping them stay active and be healthier in the long term. This is supported by research finding children who receive greater parental support for physical activity and have parents who rate physical activity as enjoyable are more likely to be active. So, it is crucial for parents to teach their child the importance of being physically active from a young age.
Doing so will significantly impact in a number of ways, such as:
o Improving long term physical health, including stronger muscles, bones, and joints
o Assisting maintain healthy weight levels
o Reducing the risk of coronary heart disease and type 2 diabetes
o Reducing stress levels, leads to better sleep and improves mood
o Aiding in the development of interpersonal skills (e.g., friendships, team work, and cooperation with children and adults)
o Enhancing fine and gross motor skills,
o Increasing self-confidence and self-esteem.
o Increasing school attendance and improves academic performance.
However, often, even though most parents today are aware of the benefits of their child being active and remaining active, they need to do more to encourage physical activity. In fact, in some cases parents often make this a low priority, when they really need to put it at the top of their list.
For example, it is common practice for parents to schedule time for homework, yet the same is not done with scheduling active time with children. Meanwhile, parents are often more than willing to write a note enabling their children to skip a PE lesson, lessening their physical activity at school as well, yes we said, and you know who you are!!
At the same time, research suggests with the rise of portable digital devices, more immersive computer games and social media means that children spend more time than ever in front of screens, being physically inactive. This has been shown to have negative effects on health development.
Some reasons why parents struggle with getting their children active…
There are many reasons why parents can struggle to encourage physical activity. Some of these include:
1. The word becoming less safe. Parents often feel that they must be more careful about letting their children be outdoors in public spaces than in the past. This is perceived fear by the way.
This has led to a decline in the numbers of children doing things such as walking or cycling to school, which are two very easy ways for children to be physically active as part of their daily routine. The unfortunate outcome is children are less likely to play outdoors in parks etc, or enrolled in a local sports club.
 The rise of screens. Many children today have become additive to screens. They have access to a wide range of screen options such as computers, tablets and mobile phones, and they have become less interested in being physically active and parents are finding it hard to get them engaged again.
The immersive and often addictive nature of screens and the activities they provide (games, TV, social media) encourages children to be sedentary. Removing children from their screens can have a large impact on their physical activity levels.
The American Academy of Paediatrics recommends that screen time is limited to two hours a day, whether that is surfing internet, TV or video games; to help regulate or monitor screen time designate a room for these activities and set a timer.
2. Physical activity is put on the back burner. In today’s world, often children’s schedules can be as busy as their parents’. Educational, social and cultural pressures means that even in extra curriculum time, children’s time is already packed out – homework, extra lessons, enrichment activities and social events.
Meanwhile, for working and/or busy parents, it can often feel like a challenge to find the time and energy to be active, whether by themselves or with their children. Consequently, for parents, this makes finding 60 minutes a day for physical activity difficult (potentially due to the belief that it must be done all at once).
3. Eating healthy is enough. Some parents believe that if their child eats healthy, they will be fine as they are getting the essential nutrients for growth. But just eating right isn’t enough to keep children fit and in shape.
A sedentary lifestyle will soon turn your child into an unhealthy couch potato, no matter how healthy the food you give them may be. This happens because they need to burn the calories they are consuming. Simply put; if calories don’t burn they turn into fat. That is why staying active is crucial as a healthy diet: the two go hand in hand.
 Use Food as Fuel. As stated above, eating healthily does not replace the need to be physically active. However, the more healthily you eat, the more this will help you when are physically active. Food is fuel – like a car, bodies run better with better quality fuel. Think of your favourite sportsmen – they don’t eat junk food (We’re not including Usain Bolt’s fondness for chicken nuggets!)
So eating a well-balanced diet can help developing children get the nutrients that they need, and will help them get the most out of being physically active. A fun way to get children to make informed decisions about healthy eating is involve them in grocery shopping and meal planning and preparation. Being a part of this process helps children understand and develop a greater understanding of the food they are eating.
Do you struggle getting your child or children active, does this sound like your family?
Now read our follow up blog ‘Let’s get moving!!’ with 8 easy hacks to help you make your child or children physically active.