Active kids tend to be happy, healthy kids. Whether it’s sports or school activities, games or play, it’s important for children to stay physically active. Exercise can help with everything from improving concentration to getting a better night’s sleep. There are also lots of social benefits of exercise for children, especially when taking part in team sports.
Read on to find out more about why exercise is so important for children, and how to encourage yours to be a little more active.
There’s a huge amount of research and evidence showing the benefits of exercise - for all of us, not just children.
For young people, keeping moving isn’t just about getting fit. It also has lots of other benefits, both for physical health, mental wellbeing and social development. Let’s take a look at some of the many reasons why regular exercise is a great thing for kids:
So, as you can see, there are loads of reasons kids should keep active.
While plenty of regular exercise can be a great thing for kids, it’s important not to overdo it. Generally speaking, it’s fine to go over the recommended amount of exercise every now and again. For example, if your child is playing out all day, on a long bike ride or if they are absorbed in an over-running sports game. Just as long as they’re not doing that every day or pushing themselves too hard, and they get plenty of rest, there shouldn’t be anything to worry about.
But regularly doing too much exercise can lead to burnout, injuries or illness. This can happen to children who participate in intensely competitive sports or athletic programmes. They can become overly focused or even obsessed with their performance, which leads to overtraining. It can also cause physical and emotional stress.
To avoid such an unhealthy situation, parents need to be on the lookout for the signs of children overdoing it. For example:
It’s also important to tailor the activity and amount of exercise to your child’s age. According to the NHS, children and teens aged 5 to 18 years should aim to take part in vigorous physical activities for at least 60 minutes a day. Children under 5 should ideally be active for at least 180 minutes spread throughout the day, but in this case ‘active’ simply means any kind of movement.
If you’d like to encourage a healthy attitude towards exercise in your children, why not lead by example? Active children are more likely to become more healthy adults, and they pick up on their habits from you.
A great way to kick this off is by being more active as a family. You can plan fun outdoor activities for the whole family, such as following a nature trail in the woods to visiting the local swimming baths.
You can also build active habits into the daily routine. For example, walking or cycling to school or the shops rather than driving.
If your kids are more interested in their tablet screens than playing outside, you’re not alone. Lots of parents have this issue, but there are some things you can do to encourage your kids to exercise a little more. The key is enjoyment. No child wants to, nor should be, forced to do things they don’t enjoy.
So, encouraging exercise habits is all about making it fun, and finding out what your child is interested in. Here are some ideas: