Research suggests that children should have 60 minutes of physical exercise per day. We all know the benefits of exercise for ourselves as adults. We know when we get out walking or doing any form or exercise we always feel better afterwards, and it usually supports a healthier environment all round, combined with diet, attitude and well-being in general.
With rates of child obesity and diabetes rising in Ireland, some small changes can make a big difference. Here are ten ways to support your child in getting 60 minutes of active exercise each day, which respect your budget and which can be incorporated into your regular routine.
- Join in with your child. We always talk about quality time with our children. Why not do something you enjoy outdoors with your child?
- Walk to school, walk home, or walk part of the way. Plan an activity for each day that fits in with your schedule.
- Get an App on your phone and tell the children about it. Record your steps and make it a competition to see how many steps you take each day.
- Encourage your child to join a club. A dance club, running club, football, martial arts, swimming, tennis, ballet or gymnastics. While some can be expensive most communities have funded groups for all children to access.
- Check out what your school offers. A lot of schools want children to join sports teams. Help your child find what they are good at and enjoy.
- If your child is very young take them walking. Walk to the shops, to the library, around the roads, up the hills or visit the animals. There are so many interesting things to do on the way. They don’t have to walk nonstop. You could be easily out for three hours by the time you stop and explore what your community has to offer. Try not to put children in buggies once they pass 2 years old. You come home exhausted and they are full of energy. They can only get good and strong at walking if you allow them to walk.
- Climb a hill. Children love to explore and you will too once you get use to getting dirty. Visit a forest. You can walk for hours or find the short path.
- Offer to walk the neighbour’s dog or walk your own. Maybe get a dog to make you get out walking all year round.
- Children love to use scooters, skate boards or roller blades. Find a local park where they can do this safely.
- Use the local football grounds to give young and older children a safe space to run and a space they cannot escape from. For younger children the fear can be letting go of their hand.
- In the spring, summer and early autumn children love to just run about the garden if you have one. Stop off at the park on your way home from school or work. 20 minutes of running about could improve the whole evening and give your children what they need around exercise.
- Don’t forget to keep exercise top of your list when it is colder outside. Often children who wrap up and get out for a run about are less often sick than those wrapped up indoors all year round. Usually it is adults who hate the winter, children love so much about all the seasons.
Be creative, sit with your children this weekend and plan all the active things you can all do. Make it a game, make it a challenge and you will all feel better. When children feel healthy and fit they will have more confidence and as result have better friendships, do better in school and over all have a better outlook on life at home and in school.
This ’10 Ways to’ article is by One Family’s Director of Children & Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly, as part of our weekly ’10 Ways to’ series of parenting tips. You can read the full series here.