There has been much media coverage about children not getting enough exercise. This is both at home as they enjoy more sedentary and housebound pursuits that technology provides, and at school where time for physical education and sport is constantly eroded by a demanding academic curriculum.
Exercise is one of those things we all think we’ll commit to – tomorrow! But new thinking about it has revealed that lack of exercise in childhood really cannot be made up for. Physical activity throughout childhood is of major importance.
It’s now understood that physical activity not only reflects on a child’s physical – and mental – health during their childhood improving performance and achievement, but also impacts on them in later life too, affecting the all round health of organs, the blood, immunity and mental capacity as we grow through adulthood. See this report.
Knowing this, then, why aren’t families investing in a commitment to it as part of their family lifestyle?
Perhaps the reason is that contemporary family life is so busy and complex, much of it being taken over by the need for parents to work long hours and the demand on children to do homework or stay safe in front of their computer rather than go out and play. The cost of sports is also a consideration as people think exercise is only worthwhile if it involves lessons and expensive gear.
This is not the case and with a little thought these obstacles can be overcome. For example:
- The best exercise is known to be walking and it’s free. The trick is to make a walk part of the daily routine by using necessary journeys like the trip to the shops/school/meeting friends etc. Wherever there’s a journey there’s a potential for some activity, it just needs to become a habitual part of what you do. Grab one at weekends too.
- Many people don’t like sports or gyms but there are other things that you can do without competition or too much expense like cycling, gardening, jogging, canoeing, climbing. Involve family friends to make it more fun and keep you at it.
- Kids always enjoy water and some pools are not that expensive. A play around in the water is as beneficial an activity as organised lessons.
- Make part of the weekend or lighter evenings a trip to the park, especially beneficial with other kids so that they can get some physical play, run around, climb, explore, take balls, Frisbees etc.
- Many charities want volunteers and organise events for families that will involve physical activity like beach cleaning, litter picking, brush clearing, gardening etc so you get exercise in the name of a good cause.
An active lifestyle is an investment to make in your children as important as their education and at the same time enhances their achievement and health both now and later in life. It’s never too early or late to develop active family habits.