Exercise and keeping as active as possible is one of the most important things for children’s physical and mental health. Whether this be running around with their friends, playing at a sports club, swimming or taking part in any other form of exercise, it is crucially important.
Some are questioning at the moment if children are getting enough exercise and what the consequences could be if they don’t.
We’ll look at a couple of questions surrounding the subject and ways to ensure that children do get enough exercise a day.
How much exercise should children have per day?
According to the NHS, children aged between 5 and 18 years old should aim to:
- Take part in at least 60 minutes of moderate or vigorous physical activity per day.
- Reduce the time spent sitting or lying down whilst aiming to break up long periods of inactivity with something physical.
- Take part in different types and intensities of exercise to develop movement skills, bones and muscles.
Some have argued that this is not enough and some have argued this is too much and can make both parents and children obsessive over exercising. With some experts telling parents to look out for signs of over-exercise in children and teens. Too much exercise can cause problems and body dysmorphia issues for young people which in turn can cause serious damage.
It is generally thought though that an average of an hour day for children and young people is a healthy amount.
What counts as exercise?
A hugely contested question with some legitimately interesting answers and some well… interesting answers but for different reasons!
It has been suggested that any activity is good activity, as long as someone isn’t sedentary it can count as exercise.
According to KidsHealth, young people should concentrate on aerobic activities that use large muscle groups and are continuous. This can include swimming, basketball, hockey, football, rugby, skating, running, riding a bike and skipping with a rope. Anything activity you can think of that gets your heart pumping faster will be a step towards the recommended amount of exercise.
Even if you or your child ran around your garden for an hour, it still counts and could be invaluable for not just their physical health but their mental health too.
How do I get my kids into exercise?
Some children will love running around no problem don’t need any prompts or asking to do so. Some children aren’t interested at all. This is not necessarily a bad, thing but you may be worried that if they aren’t doing anything active and not getting anywhere near the recommended daily amount.
According to the MD Anderson Centre, there are a few ways you could encourage your child to get into sport without being forceful or without shaming them into doing it. They suggest the following ways:
- Involve everyone in the family. If your child sees you all having fun and being active together then there is more of a chance that they will want to join in and get involved too.
- Make being active social. Invite your children’s friends over to join the activity. The more your child has fun with their friends, they probably won’t even realise that they are running around!
- Fun, fun, fun! Keep it light hearted and fun. Don’t put too much pressure on the outcome but concentrate on the fact they are being active.
- Limit time on the computer and in front of the TV. Offer your children alternatives to sitting in front of the TV. We know it is difficult to ask your child to keep away from the computer when a lot of their homework will be done on it but, once you have got your child into being more active, the reward for finishing their homework on the computer could be going out to play.
- Take the lead. If your child sees you exercising and enjoying being active, they are more likely to want to get involved and join in with you. You could inspire them to be active just by being active yourself.
- Ditch the car for some journeys. Some journeys really don’t require the use of a car. If you have a short journey to make that could be done by walking, take your child with you to get them out in the fresh air and get some active minutes in to their day.
- Add activity to your time away. Instead of just sitting on a beach, which I know most of us do love to do, add some activity into your holidays by adding fun adventure activities like snorkelling, kayaking and cycling.
- Join a sports club. If you child is interested in a certain sport, try to encourage it by asking them if they want to join a team or if they go and see a game being played.
- Give gifts to promote movement. Bikes, rollerblades, ice-skates, footballs and even some video games are great presents to children to promote physical activity.
Here are some great but simple ideas that you could use to get your child involved in physical activity. The hardest one here maybe joining a sports club, we are all too aware of the difficulty that some may face in doing this.
Why can it be hard to get involved in sport?
There are many reasons why people are finding it difficult to join an organised sports club at the moment. Some of the most noted reasons are access to the clubs, busy schedules and lately the most noted reason, not being able to afford because of the current cost-of-living crisis.
The cost-of-living crisis then has a knock-on effect on children who looking to join a team and play the sport they love. This could be having a real effect at the moment on children and their ability to stay active.
What help is available to get involved in sport?
If your child is looking to get involved in sport but there are these drawbacks, don’t threat, there are some people who can help you out.
There are plenty of organisations, like Sport England that help to get children involved in sport. There are also numerous children’s charities in the UK that help to get children involved in sport by sponsoring sports teams, individuals, kit and equipment. You can even apply for sports teams sponsorship at some of them.
We all know that sport is not always for everyone and some children don’t feel comfortable when playing sport or exercising in front of others. This is where you come in, this is how you can help to get children into sport. By encouraging them and being there for them when they need support. If you can, you should be the help that children need to get active and get involved in sport.