With being well into the second week of the school holidays, parents can often feel worried that their children will spend a large part of their summer watching the TV, using their phones, gaming and will have a rather inactive and sedentary summer holiday.
Although many households love to use technology it is important to switch off from time to time and focus on some fitness. Fitness can be fun and activities can be done at home and close to home! Every time your children throw a ball about, climb up the stairs, walk to the shops or use the hoover even (!), their fitness and health will be improving!
It is advised that children should be doing some sort of physical activity each day and so it is good to choose a variety of activities that include getting children up and moving about! The best way to encourage your children to be active is to find something they can have fun doing. The summer holidays are the longest break and it is important for children to be busy and to get the most out their time off from school.
How much physical activity do children under 18 need?
From around 5 years old and older, children need to have a minimum of 60 minutes of physical activity per day.
It is very important that children should participate in activities, which enable them to strengthen their bones and muscles. These types of physical activities help contribute to their healthy growth and development.
Bone strengthening activities could be: aerobics, basketball, vigorous dance, football, hopscotch, hockey, netball, martial arts, running, skipping with a rope, tennis, volleyball and walking.
Muscle strengthening activities could be: basketball, cleaning (!), climbing up ropes, cycling, dancing to music, football, gymnastics, pull ups, press ups, rock climbing, rugby, sit ups, swinging on playground climbing frames, tennis and tug of war.
The physical activities children over 5 years old do should include both vigorous and moderate activities.
What is vigorous activity? Vigorous activity is taking part in activities, which require more effort. It can make children feel out of breath and leave them only able to speak a few words between each breath. 1 minute of vigorous activity is seen as the equivalent of 2 minutes of moderate activity.
Examples of vigorous activity include: football, rugby, karate, cycling with speed, energetic dancing (such as hip hop), playing tig/tag, running and swimming.
What is moderate activity? Moderate activity is when your heart rate is raised but you are still able to sustain a conversation.
Examples of moderate activity include: cycling on a flat ground, a short work, playing in the playground, rollerblading, going on a scooter, skateboarding, taking the dog for a walk and yoga!
How much physical activity do young children (under 5s) need?
It is very important for pre-school children, toddlers and babies to be active each day. Physical activity helps support their growth and for them to develop healthily. It is recommended that every child under 5 should not have long amounts of time where they are inactive, unless, of course they are asleep!
Babies: should be active throughout the day. Once a baby can crawl it is good to encourage him or her to be active within safe surroundings.
Activities could include: baby bouncers, baby walkers, crawling, floor play, grasping, moving their arms and legs, playing with others, pulling, pushing, reaching, swimming and tummy time.
Toddlers: children who are up on their feet and walking about are recommended to be active inside and outside for about 3 hours a day. It doesn’t have to be all in one go and can be throughout the whole day and of varying intensities!
Activities could include: ball games, chasing games, climbing, climbing stairs, climbing frames, dancing, exploring nature, gymnastics, hide and seek, hopping, jumping, jumping on a trampoline, moving around, playing, playing outside, playing in water, riding a bike, rolling, running around, standing up, skipping, swimming and walking.
What are the benefits of keeping children active?
There are many long-term health benefits for children who exercise regularly. Exercise can help reduce the risk of getting a number of health disorders. Children who keep busy and are active daily are believed to:
- sleep better (what all parents want to hear)!
- be more positive and have an improved self-esteem
- build stronger muscles and bones
- have healthier hearts and lungs
- have reduced stress levels
- become more energetic and less lethargic
- control their weight better
- have better concentration
- learn social skills better, especially in team sports
- develop good motor/movement skills and coordination
- reduce blood sugar levels which can reduce the risk of developing health conditions such as diabetes in the future
30 ways to get and keep your children active this summer
You do not have to spend a fortune to get children active and a lot of activities can be done at and around home. It is important to try and find a variety of activities and ones that are fun and can include all the family.
- have a go at Zumba or a fitness workout together at home.
- get your children to go the park for a kick about or a run around.
- get you children outside for a game of cricket or rounders with friends or family
- use the local swimming pool.
- sign up for a local sports programme. It is great for a child to take part in a sport which interests them, or they may even want to try something new!
- create a fitness circuit outside using equipment you may already have at home such as: balls, cones, hula-hoops, nets, skipping ropes, trampolines, playground. Improvisation is key here!
- play catch.
- do some gardening.
- try badminton in the garden or work on any ball and racket skills.
- create various work-out stations and include activities such as burpees, hopscotch, jumping jacks, limbo and skipping…etc. You could use coloured chalk to mark out the stations.
- do some cleaning!
- organise races with friends and family. It doesn’t just have to be all about running, you could include jumping, hoping, skipping, crawling, egg and spoon, three legged, power walking etc.
- go on a bike-ride or walk.
- make a treasure hunt inside or outside and every time your children find a clue they must complete a fitness exercise to move on to the next clue.
- go on a scooter, rollerblade, skateboard or ice skate (maybe not in Summer!)
- build a den or a tree-house.
- play hide and seek or tig / tag.
- go on a walk/hike together and get your children to spot various plants, animals and rocks etc. This incorporates learning and exercising at the same time.
- find a local orienteering course.
- take the dog for a walk.
- play frisbee.
- go trampolining.
- try indoor rock climbing.
- fly a kite.
- go to the beach. The beach offers opportunities for running, playing, games and swimming.
- take part in a charity children’s run, a park run or a 5K race.
- have a game of pitch and putt.
- go to the local playground and use climbing frames as a physical workout.
- go horse riding.
- get some music on and get dancing.
Final tips for getting children active
It is a good idea to:
- make exercise part of your children regular routine from their early years.
- have a positive attitude yourself towards exercise.
- be a good role model and you will benefit too and will give yourself more chances to spend time with your children.
- limit time spent using technology.
- choose activities that children will enjoy and go from there!
What activities will your children do this Summer? Have you got any ideas to add to the list?