Everyone knows that getting regular daily exercise is really important for staying fit and healthy, especially for children. The trouble is, as soon as kids hear the word ‘exercise’ they decide it’s going to be the most boring thing in the world and refuse to do it!
In some cases, they might have a point, not all exercise is fun, especially if your kids aren’t sporty. Luckily there are a few things you can try to get them doing some exercise without them even knowing. As soon as you add a game or additional activity into the mix, they quickly forget they are doing exercise and throw themselves into it head first.
How Much Exercise Do Children Actually Need?
The amount of recommended exercise really depends on age and circumstances but there are general guidelines that you can follow which is a good starting point. The CDC sets out a number of guidelines for daily physical exercise which are clear and easy to follow.
In summary, the CDC recommends that children and adolescents should be doing regular physical exercise every day for at least 60 minutes. The exercises that they do should target a number of different areas of the body but doesn’t have to be done all at the same time. Its recommended that different exercise targeting different parts of the body are done of different days.
The 3 types of exercise that should be done are an aerobic activity that is of vigorous intensity, muscle-strengthening exercises, and bone-strengthening exercises.
When it’s broken down like that it can seem like a lot, but not all exercise has to be done at home. Your children may already do an hour of physical education at school during the day or they may play for a sports team where they have to train after school. Even classes like dancing count towards their total daily exercise hours.
Mixing Up Exercise Activities
As the CDC suggests, exercise should be age appropriate, enjoyable and varied. If your kids don’t already take sports classes then getting them to sign up for one at school could be a great way to get them doing some exercise a couple of days a week.
However, it’s understandable that not every child is sporty and some just aren’t interested in getting on the football field or playing soccer. If sports classes aren’t their thing then here are some alternative non-sporty ideas you could try to get them doing their exercise.
Take a Trip to an Indoor Play Park
An indoor playpark will offer the ultimate variety of activities and is sure to be an exciting day out that your kids will want to do over-and-over. There really is something for everyone of all abilities and all age levels which is what makes these parks so great. The other bonus is that as the park is indoors, you’re not restricted by the weather so you can head there even when the rain is pouring.
Alternatively, you could seek out an Indoor Trampoline Park which can be just as fun. These parks are usually huge warehouse-type buildings where the floors are covered in trampolines, along with the walls too! They are great fun for adults and kids alike and some places will have an area especially for smaller children to bounce around in so they don’t get hurt.
Go on a Long Bicycle Ride
If you don’t have bicycles already then you could look to buy one or two used bicycles from second hand stores or you could try and find a store that’s having a sale. If you are buying second hand it might be a good idea to get the bicycles serviced or checked over before taking them out, especially the brakes and tires.
Once you’re all kitted out with a bicycle and the safety gear you can begin planning a route. If you are all new to cycling you will want to keep to route fairly short and away from main roads. Cycling with your kids along a route that goes down quieter streets or along designated cycle routes is a good way to get started. If your children are still learning to cycle you can get attachments that go onto the back of adult bikes like a tandem, seats that attach to the back for smaller children and even little trailers. This might defeat the point of them getting any exercise though!
Get Them Walking the Dog with You
This one is really simple but getting the kids to come along with you on the daily dog walk after school or even at the weekend is a really easy way to get them doing their exercise. Rather than just walking round the block a couple of times with your dog on the lead, jump in the car and try to find a dog park. Alternatively, you could find a field where your dog and children can run around safely together, tiring them both out in the process! Taking along toys like balls, frisbees and rope for a tug of war will mix up playtime a bit and keep them interested for longer.
Let Them Help with the Gardening
Getting your kids helping with the gardening is a great way to get in muscle and bone-strengthening exercise. Digging holes with a spade to plant new vegetables and carrying soil from one place to another all counts towards their daily exercise quota. Other activities like pushing a wheelbarrow around and watering the plants with a watering can are also great ways to get them active.
Not only is getting them to help with the gardening good for exercise, if you grow your own vegetables it can be a great way to get them interested in healthy eating too. Getting them to plant and look after their own tomato plant or beans will give them a sense of ownership and will make them excited to eat it once it has grown rather than turning their nose up!