By Amanda Frolich
Being active is so important for children of any age—and adults too, of course—but busy parents often tell me it’s just easier to take the car to school and use screens to entertain at home. Many children don’t get the 60 minutes of exercise a day they need to stay healthy and, as a result, levels of obesity are rising at frankly mindboggling rates.
One in ten children starting primary school in England is obese, and by the time they leave that figure has increased to one in five. That’s a statistic that just fills me with horror. It really doesn’t have to be this way.
I’m passionate about getting children moving and instilling in them a love of exercise. It’s never too early to start—in fact the younger the child, the more likely they are to continue these good habits as they grow older.
Spend time outside
Children love the fresh air and it’s good for them. They love kicking and chasing a ball and also love to be chased. Take them to a playground and challenge them to play on as many different pieces of equipment as possible. And do short bursts of activity—of around 30 seconds—on each one. That way they won’t get bored.
Spread activity throughout the day
Walk, scooter or cycle with them. Park the car ten minutes away from where you’re going and walk the rest of the way. You’ll also avoid the school-gate congestion!
And if rain hampers play, worry not: there are still plenty of things you can do.
You can do this in the living room, or take it outside if you can. Make a circuit of activities (10 x star jumps, 10 x forward rolls, 1 minute running on the spot, etc.). Get your children involved in suggesting the activities and choosing the workout tracks. It’s a great way to do something together as a family.
Put on their favourite tunes—or yours—and get dancing. Get the kids to show you some moves. Could be a good time to learn ‘the floss’?
Wash the car/bike/garden furniture
Okay, so this might not be a wet-weather activity, but you could easily do something similar inside. Some kids love to sweep up, dust and vacuum. And if they earn a little money along the way, those who don’t can be easily persuaded!
Download an app
There are loads of free apps around to encourage you to get moving. Why not try my Action Club app—the whole family can join in with the mini workouts and dance routines.
Soft play/trampoline centres/swimming
London is awash with swimming pools, indoor soft play centres and climbing walls and there are plenty of trampoline parks springing up now too! [Check out The MotherHood’s roundup of indoor play centres here.]
As well as exercise, it’s important to think about nutrition and hydration. Encourage healthy eating habits and make sure your children drink enough water. WUBL spring water is a great new product. Steer clear of sugar-filled drinks and snacks—children really don’t need these. And if you don’t buy them you can’t be tempted to eat them either.
My ultimate piece of advice though is just to have fun. Being active as a family really doesn’t have to be a chore. Build it up slowly and I’m sure you’ll find yourselves getting fitter and doing things you never thought you would—the floss dance, anyone?!
Amanda Frolich has spent the past 25 years keeping children across London active in her award-winning Amanda’s Action Club classes. The Amanda’s Action Club app is available free to download from GooglePlay or iTunes, and her Get Fit Song is available to download on iTunes.
For more info on Amanda, please visit her at: www.amandasactionclub.co.uk