Tips to get active with children

While kids are active at school, most of the time they are actually sitting down and can be happy just to chat to their friends in the playground instead of running around.

Physical activity doesn't have to be sport, or an organised activity. Lots of play activities can involve children being active. Encourage your child to play outside regularly.

It can be more fun if you make activity something the whole family can do together, and kids are more likely to join in if they see mum or dad doing it too.

How much should I do?

A lot of young people are active for a total of 30 minutes a day. This may sound okay but actually it's not enough to keep your heart and body in good health.

You should aim for at least one hour a day of moderate intensity physical activity. Activities like brisk walking, cycling and dancing are all excellent examples of moderate activity.

Moderate activity makes you feel warmer and slightly out of breath. The good news is that your one hour of physical activity does not have to be carried out all in one go, but can be built up over the day.

What can I do?

There are lots of fun activities you can do at home alone, with a friend in the evenings on a school day, and some will fit brilliantly around homework or other family commitments.

Stretching

This is a great activity to fit in when you have a few spare minutes in your day or when you need a breather from your homework.

Stretching your muscles is great because it helps:

  • To wake you up
  • To get rid of any muscle or joint stiffness
  • Prepare your body properly to take part in physical activity
  • Prevent hurting or injuring yourself
  • Recovery after physical activity

You should stretch as part of a warm up before any vigorous activity and these should ideally be held for 6 to 10 seconds. After any activity cool-down stretches should be held for 12 to 15 seconds.

Bored at break times? Why not try out some of the following activity ideas with your mates and just see how the time flies. Using your breaktimes to be active is an excellent way to contribute to your hour a day of physical activity.

Breaktime activities

Why not: 

  • Take a brisk walk around the school and catch up on gossip at the same time? (Make sure you choose areas where you are allowed of course!)
  • Ask a member of staff if any equipment (for example balls or rackets) can be made available for use? You could even suggest that a certain area of the playground/field could be used for this
  • Suggest to a member of staff about allowing a certain activity on a particular day a week? For example inline skating, skate-boarding, basketball, BMX or mountain biking

Are there any clubs on offer at lunchtimes? Perhaps the activities on offer don't seem that appealing to you. Get a mate to try one out with you. You may be surprised to find out that you have a hidden talent and will certainly feel refreshed for your afternoon lessons!

Walk or cycle to school

Walking or cycling to school is a brilliant way to contribute towards your hour a day of physical activity because:

  • It can easily become a part of your daily routine
  • It is a great way to meet up with friends and catch up on gossip before school and after lessons

If you do walk or cycle to school, remember:

Do:

  • Walk/cycle with friends or brothers and sisters
  • Wear a helmet if you are cycling
  • Ask about cycling proficiency courses taking place in school or in your local community
  • Choose routes that are well lit, well used by people and relatively traffic free
  • Use effective lights and reflective gear when cycling in dim light or the dark
  • Let parents know which route you will be taking

Don't:

  • Forget to have your bike checked over from time to time to ensure that it is in safe working order
  • Wear your rucksack on one shoulder, but on two instead. This is easier and much better for your back
  • Wear dark clothing if you are cycling in the winter when the mornings and evenings are darker; wear a reflective top or something that is lightly coloured as your top layer

Fun ways to get fit

Children

  • Walk faster than usual
  • Run the last 100 metres to the school gate
  • Celebrate your birthday by inviting your friends and doing something active such as a playing five-a-side football
  • Challenge your parents to see who can do the most press-ups, dance the longest or walk the most steps in a set time
  • Deliberately pick days out where you know you've got to walk quite a lot, such as going to the zoo
  • If you've got a garden, ask your parents for your own little area where you can plant, feed and weed the flowers and vegetables you like
  • Get off the bus one stop early and walk the last bit

Parents 

  • Push the stroller a little faster than normal
  • Teach your child your favourite sport
  • Learn yoga with your children
  • Take the stairs rather than the lift or escalator
  • Park further away in the supermarket car park so you have to walk further to the store
  • Build and fly a kite with your children 
  • Learn to juggle and then teach your children
  • Go back to basics and play the games of your childhood with your children - hide and seek, hopscotch, catch
  • Set aside a part of the garden that's for games and play only so there's no worry about damaging the flowers or the lawn
  • Sometimes take the dog for a jog rather than a walk
  • Teach your children your favourite dance
  • Get an allotment - you can grow your own food so saving money and getting better produce; get exercise at the same time and get your children to help

Find out more

Change 4 Life  have lots of good tips for being active with your children and family. 

THRIVE provides details of events and news within Wandsworth which may be suitable for you and your family.