Finding ways to keep children active is vitally important though, especially in the technological age when they’re constantly tempted by gadgets and screens.
According to NHS guidelines on childhood fitness, “children and young people need to do two types of physical activity each week: aerobic exercise and exercises to strengthen their muscles and bones.”
To reach that goal – and get them out into the fresh air and socialising – the trick is often to find forms of exercise that look like pure fun.
Here are five of the best ways to get children active and moving around, which may not even seem like exercise to them.
Playparks and green spaces
When there’s so much sophisticated entertainment on offer for children, it’s easy to forget that the simple pleasures can make the best memories. Public parks can also sometimes provide ways to exercise without even realising it too.
The first public play park in the UK was probably one created in Manchester in 1859. In London, after World War II “junk playgrounds” became common to make good use of debris.
Fortunately, modern playparks are built to exacting health and safety standards, with often fabulous physical challenges involved. There is even outdoor gym equipment in some British parks, and many local parks have skateboard and roller blading ramps and even BMX bike tracks.
Challenging themselves on park play equipment (and hopefully interacting with other children) will give your child a good physical work-out, as well as developing new self-confidence and balancing and co-ordination skills too.
If your children feels they are too old to play on the equipment, the green spaces in parks are a great place for parents to create obstacle courses, race tracks or do ‘sports day’ like challenges and games.
Retro kids activities
Another easy way to get children active – and go back to the basic principles of childhood fun – is to invest in a range of traditional, low-cost play equipment for your garden.
Why not challenge your child and their friends to practice skipping, hoola hoop twirling and outdoor bowling, for example. See how many times they can bat a tennis ball up or do “keepy-uppies” with a football. Then, you can have a chart to show progress or award prizes for reaching milestones.
Join a local kids sports club
This great way to get children active has the added benefit of being an excellent way to help your child make new friends too. It will also build vital life skills, such as teamwork and communication.
A sports club that feels very competitive can be off-putting for some children, however. That’s why The Little Foxes Club has worked so hard to create community sports activities that are highly inclusive, with an emphasis on fun and friendship.
At our sessions, children can learn advanced skills, compete in competitions and develop in confidence. However, there are also weekly activities and Holiday Camps for a more laid-back way to test out different sports, make good memories and get active!
Party games and dance-off days
Why should dancing and children’s party games be just for special occasions? They could be a once-a-week activity, fun for a rainy day, or a reward for doing great at school, for example.
A brisk game of musical statues, an indoor or garden ‘treasure hunt’ or some ‘Simon Says’ star jumps and running on the spot will certainly get their heart pumping.
For older children, put some of their favourite up-beat music on and get the whole family up on their feet and singing! (Though even older kids might be secretly enthralled by some of the party games mentioned above.)
Make family walks appealing
One way to make exercise fun for children is to add a four-legged friend to your hike or stroll. If you don’t have your own dog, you could offer to take a neighbour or friend’s one out, a couple of times a week. They may be delighted.
Including other animals in the walk may work too, such as a stroll to feed the ducks, lizard spotting in sand dunes or a ramble to find horses and farm animals in the countryside.
Setting challenges on your walk can keep little legs moving, such as who can skip, hop or walk backwards the best. Or, you could give them a list of things to look for on their walk, with points for special ‘spots’.
You could even play word games, quizzes and things like ‘I Spy’ to distract children from the fact they are exercising in the fresh air!
Make it playful and relaxed
All the above ways to get children exercising without even realising it share common traits; they put the emphasis on enjoyment, making great memories and going at their own pace.
That’s especially true of the local sports activities run by The Little Foxes Club. Our sessions are always age-appropriate and involve trained professionals providing lots of opportunities for kids to simply be kids!
Browse our range of sports sessions for children near you, and hopefully you can get your child’s activity level up, without you having to do much at all!