Just like adults, children need to be physically active to stay healthy. The guidance says that kids should get a minimum of 60 minutes of exercise a day, which doesn’t sound like much - but when we consider how much time they’re sitting at their desks or in front of the tv, are we really sure they’re getting over an hour a day of physical activity?
Not all kids are drawn to “organised” team sports, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of opportunities to build exercise and activity into their day. At Good People HQ we put our heads together for a few simple ways to boost the daily activity quotient of our little ones - and ourselves while we’re at it!
Help them find the thing they love
If your child tried tennis but didn’t enjoy it, that doesn’t mean they’re not sporty. Try taking a year of letting them try a smorgasbord of different activities to help them find one they love. Maybe they find their joy in dance. If they love animals, horse riding could be their thing. Do you have a Scout group nearby where they could get their fix of being in nature? Perhaps they find strength and confidence in martial arts, or they love swimming… the list of possibilities is endless and the general wisdom is that we can all find something we love.
Make activity a part of your everyday routine
If you tend to drive instead of walking, change your schedule up a bit so that you walk or bike to school, to friends’ houses, or to appointments around town. It may take a bit of extra planning (and require additional time), but with a bit of effort, you can make it happen - and think of it as saving time, as your daily exercise is done!
Kids love nothing more than having fun with their parents. Maybe their new activity can be yours too - pick up a tennis racquet and hit a ball with them, play catch on the lawn, throw or kick a ball together in the park - when you join in and make a game of it (especially if you’re prepared to look a bit silly), your kids forget they’re exercising and get lost in the fun. You’ll be amazed at how much you enjoy it too.
Household “chores” are a time to exercise
Vacuuming, washing the car, weeding the flower beds… these are all good forms of physical exercise. Get the whole family involved when there are chores to be done, and make a game of it. Dance to music as you work and offer rewards for tasks completed (like money in a jar or being allowed to choose the Saturday night movie). The time will fly by and kids will learn responsibility as well as getting some exercise.
Remind them to take activity breaks
Encourage the older children to take a break from sitting while they’re doing their homework or studying for tests. Remind them every 45 minutes or so to do some stretches, take a walk around the block, or just simply jump up and down for a few minutes. This will ensure they don’t become sedentary while they’re learning, and give their brains and bodies some much-needed oxygen.
Limit screen time
Limiting screen time can feel like the greatest challenge of this parenting generation because of all the complaining about being bored. Here’s the good news: we can set limits on screen time and stick to them, and what our children do with their free time after that is not our responsibility. Within reason of course! The truth is that once children have finished complaining (which they will do soon enough if we’re consistent with the limits we set), more often than not they will go and find something physical to do. Sit back and watch with satisfaction as they practice their cartwheels on the lawn, do handstands against their cupboard doors, or build a fort with the couch cushions. Force them to use their imaginations and - hey presto! - they will.
Set the example
As always, it’s what we do that’s much more important than what we say. If our children see us find joy in regularly and unapologetically moving our bodies, it will become second nature to them. So make sure you prioritise your own physical and mental health and wellbeing by building activity you love into the rhythm of your life. Go for a walk, meet up with girlfriends for yoga, get sweaty in your HIIT session, or join a dance class. Move your one and only perfect body as often as you can.
Good People is a domestic staffing agency specialising in introducing high quality household assistance. We provide a simple, fast and professional service to recruit trained and vetted staff who match your family values. To discuss what we can do for you, or to join the Good People Club, get in touch today.