Welcome back to another post in my this increasingly popular blog series Top Tips from a Former Nanny, today I am sharing my top tips for keeping children fit and active.
With children spending an increasing amount of time sitting in front of the TV, playing on phones or tablets it isn’t surprising that childhood obesity is on the up yet again. These isn’t a day goes by without another report being announced of the latest figures and pointing the blame at someone.
Using National Child Measurement Programme data of primary school children, the Health and Social Care Information Centre states that:
- more than 1 in 5 children are overweight or obese when they begin school
- almost 1 in 3 children are overweight or obese by the time they leave primary school
With the government trying to do its bit such as introducing the sugar tax, schools working hard to provide hot healthy meal options for our children – free to those in Infants school and paid for Juniors (currently anyway – that may of course all change after the general elections), and even lots of free clubs for children popping up to help keep them active such as free tennis lessons for children, I was surprised to find out via research commissioned by playground equipment provider ESP Play which found that 68% of a child’s PE lesson is spent stationary!
I found this rather surprising, especially as Emmy does do P.E in school twice a week, however when chatting with her recently about these lessons it seems she doesn’t do as much exercise as I’d hoped she would be – while skills such as throwing and catching are important ones to learn, the children won’t be breaking a sweat from them nor increasing their heart rates.
Promisingly though, further research showed a 19% increase in physical activity in kids when ESP’s methods and playground environments were implemented. This included things like multi-skill zone playground markings and providing staff at schools with training programmes to improve their knowledge and PE lessons.
Of course we can’t all afford to pay out for gym memberships, and the latest fitness class or kids sports clubs but not all forms of exercise costs money.
Here are my top tips for encouraging children to be active:
Make it fun
Turn off the TV and pop on some music (close the curtains if you don’t want the neighbours to watch you dancing) and go with the flow.
Who cares if you can’t dance? The children certainly won’t. Jump up and down, twirl around, even star jump just have fun – did you know that laughing has even been proven to burn calories? apparently you can burn between 10 and 40 calories from laughing for 15 minutes (it all helps right?)
Jump onto the trampoline with the children – mine love it when I go on with them and they stay on at least twice as long too, plus it helps them sleep in the evening as they are then so tired, as am I – win/win all round.
Go on an adventure
You don’t have to pay to have fun, why not look into Geo Caching, it is fun for all age groups, gets you outdoors in the fresh air and helps you to discover new surrounding in your local area which you probably never knew existed.
Geo Caching is an outdoor treasure hunt where you use GPS coordinates to hunt and find treasures left by others, once found you must put back again but many add extra treasures for the next person to find and keep – if you take something out of the treasure boxes put something back in there in return. This can be enjoyed by all the family and can also become quite competitive amongst you.
Ditch the car
Of course not literally, but instead of driving somewhere why not take the bikes, scooters, rollerskates or even walk?
We do this often and instead of driving to have a fun day out we head off into Epping forest for a hiking adventure where we climb some trees, make camp fires, build dens and make robe swings.
Another favourite of ours is a walk along the River Lea to watch the boats or to the White Water Rafting centre to watch the canoes.
Take a picnic
Instead of stopping somewhere for food why not pack up a picnic, pop it into a backpack and head off to the park, you’ll spend less money, know exactly what your food contains and there’s no long wait for food on hot and busy days.
This also means you could stay out for longer.
You are hardly likely to stay outside or active if you are soaked to the bone or boiling hot.
Light layers which can be removed are always best – you’ll get hot if you are running around after a ball all afternoon but if you are a little way away from home you’ll want a light raincoat if it starts raining suddenly (there’s one thing you can’t guarantee and that’s the Great British weather)
If you have enjoyed this post, please to visit the others in this series by clicking on the picture below: