helping your child get enough exercise

Watching your child running around the playground, it's clear that kids naturally love to play. But as it's recommended for school-age children to be physically active for 60 minutes every day, it's understandable why studies show that three-quarters of them aren’t. You don’t need to take out another gym membership though! Cycling, dancing and playing tag all count towards the 60 minutes.

We all know that battle of trying to drag children away from their favourite TV programme or video game. And many of us can feel a bit unsure about letting our children play outside unsupervised. Not getting enough physical exercise can lead to some problems though, like putting on a bit too much weight. Being overweight increases the chance of children developing health issues later in life, like heart disease and diabetes.

Staying a healthy weight is just one of the benefits of exercise for children. It can also improve their mood, reduce anxiety and improve sleep. And, of course, it can be a lot of fun! So how can you persuade your child away from their favourite spot on the sofa?

children playing outdoors and getting exercise

set a great example

When you’ve had a long day, it’s all too tempting to just collapse in an armchair and get your fix of your favourite soap opera. But children with active parents are twice as likely to be active themselves. We’re not suggesting you have to dust off the running shoes and start training for a triathlon though!

Simply pick some family activities that you can all enjoy together. You could have Friday night family dance-offs, set up an obstacle course in the garden or go for a regular swim together (who doesn't love splashing their parents?). And just seeing you head off to your Zumba class can give your children the motivation to get more active themselves.

encourage play

Children tend to be more active when they’re with others their age, so set up some playdates, or head to the park. As with so much in their sociable lives, it's much easier getting children to exercise if a friend's there to join in.

join a club

Lots of schools offer after-school clubs and there's your local community centre too. There's bound to be physical activities for children on offer that your child genuinely enjoys. If ballet’s not their thing, how about tennis, or judo? Some clubs offer taster sessions, so you can try before you buy.

help to improve your community

If you'd like to see more safe places to play, cycle and exercise in your community, you could get involved. Why not write to your MP, speak to the council, sign petitions and get involved with clean-up days?

set limits for screen time

We've all experienced how hard it can be for children to stop doing something that they enjoy (hello tantrum). Letting them know in advance about time limits for the TV, computer, tablets and game consoles can help make it easier to press the off button.

As school can be a bit tiring, snuggle up on the sofa together with a snack when they get home, then they'll have the energy to get active again. For avid couch potatoes, once the TV's off they'll soon get bored and will eventually start enjoying being more active. It might take time, but you can help your children to have a healthy relationship with technology.

give them freedom

You might need to suggest activities sometimes, but where possible, be guided by what your child wants to play. Have a chat with them about why exercise is so important, and what they might like to do. Give them as much freedom as you can, while keeping them safe and sound.

A scraped knee might sting, but it won’t hurt for long. Kit them out in the right gear for their activity, from a cycle helmet to knee pads, and let them have fun. Talk to them about safety, and get them lessons if you'd like to. If they love climbing trees, you could book them on a clip and climb day.

Nurturing your child’s passion for sport and other physical activities can help give them a better start in life. They could build habits that will stay with them into adulthood. And you may well find you benefit as a family too, particularly if you find a new hobby you can all enjoy together.

Remember, exercise can be so much fun! Check out our outdoor toys, from scooters and bikes to trampolines.