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:
- Parking further away from your destination and walking the rest of the way (e.g., school, shops or sport club)
- Walking, scooting or biking to and from school
- Before school, you could dance around in the living room
- 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
- 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.
- 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:
- Number of times you walked or biked to school
- Number of times you played a game in the garden
- Number of times you played outside with your siblings or friends
- The number of minutes you were active doing these activities every day
- 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:
- Re-enacting a favourite story whilst doing the activity, such an adventure sequence from a film or an activity from a computer game
- Taking photos at regular intervals, you will be surprised how much walking can be done without realising it and it fun too.
- 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!
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!
- 22 Jun, 2020
- by, admin