Do your children enjoy exercise? Are they doing enough? Sometimes we have to nurture a love of exercise in our little ones. The current activity guidelines for children age 5 to 18 are that they need to do at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day. This should be of moderate to vigorous intensity so needs to be something that gets their heart racing and makes them out of breath. On three days a week this should include an activity that strengthens muscles and bones. Under 5s should be active for at least 180 minutes a day but this can include lighter activities too. Have a look here for the NHS guidelines and suggestions about how to achieve this.
Schools and exercise.
I’m really grateful that my children’s primary schools are very sporty and they’ve had the opportunity to try so many different activities whilst they’re so young. They seem to be developing a love for exercise and that makes me happy as I know the benefits it will bring them in every aspect of their lives.
There was a major furore in 2014 when Michael Gove the then Education Secretary suggested that exercise be used as punishment in UK schools. In my opinion laps of the field for bad behaviour is not the way to improve the health of our increasingly obese children. My son actually said he’d see it as a treat! Thankfully, largely due to an online petition, support from sporting stars such as Paula Radcliffe and Chrissie Wellington and the sporting community as a whole this issue was brought to everyone’s attention. The subsequent Education Secretary Nicky Morgan had this section of the guidance removed when she took over from Mr Gove. As a runner herself she clearly understood why sport should be used as a positive force and not a punitive measure.
Exercise at home.
Nurturing a love of exercise is crucial in producing healthy happy children. Whilst some of the responsibility sits with schools I feel the bulk of it lies at home. If as parents we can make exercise fun and part of our usual routine then our children will think it’s normal, enjoy it and have good habits for life. It’s often easier said than done and it does require energy, enthusiasm and imagination to keep the spark alive. There are different challenges at different ages; from actually managing to get out of the door when they’re tiny to coping with their changing body image as teenagers.
Trial and error.
I suggest trying as wide a variety of activities as you can. We all know how different our children are in their temperament and interests. There are so many sports to try. Team games teach leadership skills and help to build confidence but individual sports suit some children better. My oldest quieter child has discovered a love of climbing, my bubbly daughter craves dance in any form and my youngest son thrives on competitive cross-country running. They’re very different personalities and finding the sports that catch their interest has taken time.
Sport doesn’t have to be expensive, some of the best activities are free. If you haven’t tried parkrun then I urge you to do so. We loved our first experience doing park run. Junior parkrun is now well established and more courses are popping up all over the country on weekend mornings. It’s for all abilities and it’s free, it’s a sociable fun way to exercise.
Be a role model.
One of the best ways to get kids active is to be a great role model yourself. Children love to imitate their parents from a young age but even as they get older the way you live your life has a massive impact on how they choose to live theirs. This places a great deal of responsibility at our door but as parents we’re used to this. We should embrace it and look on it as something enjoyable and positive that will benefit the whole family rather than seeing it as a chore. It’s a wonderful gift to be able to give them.
Just look at the admiration and pride in the face of this little girl as she joins her mum running the last stretch of the Prague marathon. I feel it’s a powerful image. This is Mirka Moore of Fitness4Mamas. Have a look at her blog for great fitness tips and motivation.
Kids and kit.
I sometimes feel bad that although my children do just as much sport as me their kit is not of the same quality as mine. I find it hard to get really good technical wear in such small sizes. My son just ran a long cross country race in a 100% cotton Tshirt, his choice but I’d never wear that; I’d choose a fabric that wicks sweat away from the body. I know young children don’t sweat as much as adults but they shouldn’t settle for second best. Occasionally I’ll come across a good breathable base layer but I can never find the range or variety that’s available for adults. I’m always searching through the bargain buckets but am rarely successful.
As most of my followers will know I’m a huge fan of Nuu-Muu dresses. They’re my first choice of clothing particularly for my marathons as they’re so comfy, stylish and perform at the highest level. I wrote a blog about them as people are always asking me where I get them. They do have a girls range and Nuu-Muu kindly sent me one for my daughter. She’s so interested in fashion and spends ages deciding what outfit to run round the village in! The Mini-Muus come in sizes from age 3 to 10 and the design and fabric is of the same high spec as the adult dresses. Perfect for your active girls. Molly chose to wear shorts under hers as she spends most of her time upside down doing cartwheels at the moment!
So, be imaginative, be enthusiastic and try new things. Get active yourself, join friends and family and set a great example. Achieve health through exercise and above all HAVE FUN!
As a special treat Nuu-Muu have given me a girl’s Mini-Muu to give away. You can choose the style and the size! Visit the on-line Nuu-Muu store to browse. If you’d like the chance to win one then you can enter via the Rafflecopter below. Just choose as many of the options as you like. Good luck!