Physical activity helps children grow strong bones, maintain a healthy weight, and discover the world around them. Best of all, it’s great fun.
All children should be physically active for at least one hour a day. You can help by encouraging your child to find activities they enjoy, and building physical activity into family life. Most children love running around a park or playing in a playground.
One reason why physical activity in childhood is so important is because it helps your child to maintain a healthy weight.
But that’s not the only reason: physical activity is part of the way children discover the world, and themselves. It helps build strong muscles and healthy bones, as well as improve self-confidence.
You can find advice on eating well and getting active as a family on the Change4Life website.
Bristol University’s professor of exercise and health sciences, Ken Fox, has 10 suggestions that can make exercise fun for all the family.
Ten activity tips for children
1. Walk or cycle to and from school with the kids as often as possible. Read about the health benefits of cycling.
2. Build a den or treehouse with them in the school holidays. Or, under supervision, encourage them to climb a tree or two.
3. Go roller skating, rollerblading or skateboarding, indoors or outside. In winter, go ice skating. Kids also love scooters.
4. Do an activity challenge together, such as working towards a fun run or a walk for charity. Find out about charity walks in your area.
5. Take the dog for a walk. If you don’t have one of your own, ask to borrow a neighbour’s or friend’s dog and take it for a walk.
6. Support your kids in sports, clubs or any other activities that may interest them. Joining a weekend club sport ensures commitment to a team and regular exercise. Find all kinds of sporting facilities in your area.
7. Find time every weekend to do something active with your children. Play frisbee or football in the park, go trampolining, or try indoor rock climbing.
8. Fly a kite. The Kite Society of Great Britain can point you to a number of groups that regularly meet for special flying days with experienced members who offer advice and assistance. Some also run kite-making workshops.
9. Try a beach holiday. When they hit the sand, children find a multitude of ways to exercise, including games, swimming, and plenty of running around. Or try an activity-based holiday.
10. The National Parks website has lists of events such as guided walks and children’s fun days for fresh ideas for active days out.