Why do children need to be active?
Being active in all sorts of ways helps to keep children happy and healthy. The benefits for children taking part in fun, enjoyable activities includes:-
- Feeling more lively and good about themselves
- Unwinding from school work
- Meeting up with friends and making new ones
- Keeping a healthy weight
- Staying in shape - having strong bones and muscles
- Keeping fit - having a healthy heart
- Doing well in their class and lessons
- Relaxing and sleeping well
- Avoiding adulthood diseases
How much physical activity should children be doing?
Children need to do at least 60 minutes of moderate intensity activity each day. It doesn’t have to be all in one go but can be broken down into shorter amounts :-
- 6 x 10 minutes
- 4 x 15 minutes
- 3 x 20 minutes
- 2 x 30 minutes
What does moderate intensity activity mean?
- Medium level of activity that gets the heart beating faster
- Activity where some effort is needed
- Activity that makes you feel a little warm and out of breath
- Activities that you can usually do for a reasonable time without becoming too tired.
What types of activity should children be doing?
It doesn’t have to be sport as running around and having fun outside all counts. Here are some ideas to get children more active in their day:-
- Everyday activities - done as part of a daily routine.
Walking to school - if it’s walkable, walk it!
Playing out rather than watching TV.
Helping with the garden or washing the car.
- Active play - done in leisure/free time.
Playing in the park
Playing out on a bike
Dancing to music at home
Going swimming with family/friends
- Organised sport - sometimes done through a sports club, at school or a local leisure centre.
How do we encourage children to make small changes in their daily activities and ‘get going’ every day?
Ask children to think of 1 change they could make and keep to it. Building up activity levels gradually makes the changes manageable and more likely to be maintained long term. Whatever choices children make, having fun is the main priority. Here are a few ideas to discuss with your child:-
- Limit screen time (TV, computer etc) to 2 hours max per day
- Ask to go for a family walk after tea once a week
- Try to be more active at playtimes
- Clean the family car once a week
- Try a bit harder in PE lessons
- Ask mum or dad if you can walk to school or ride your bike once a week
- Walk the dog more often
- Find out what activity clubs are running after school/at leisure centre
- Ask mum and dad to play some of the games they used to do when they were little
- Go to the local park once a week to see what is going on