Keeping fit and active can help to reduce the risk of developing a range of illnesses, including heart disease and cancer. It can also boost immunity, energy levels and concentration. Experts agree that children are now getting significantly less exercise than previous generations, and this has led to an obesity epidemic as many children now consume more calories than they burn off.
British Medical Association (BMA) guidelines recommend that children should undertake a minimum of 60 minutes’ moderate exercise each day. If your child is not used to exercise, then it’s wise to aim for 30 minutes initially, and gradually increase this until it becomes part of their everyday routine.
It can be difficult to motivate children to get fit, but it helps to think of ways that you can get fit as a family. Walking, cycling, swimming, ball games, in-line skating and horse riding can all be enjoyed by the whole family, many of them at minimal cost.
Some children might need lots of encouragement to get active, particularly if they are unfit, overweight or don’t enjoy school sports. Activities such as dancing, martial arts, skateboarding or water sports might suit them better, or they might prefer a computer dance-mat game or mini trampoline so that they can get fit at home.
Don’t overlook the importance of PE as part of your child’s school curriculum, as being fit can improve their long-term health and happiness. Some children prefer team sports, while others do better with individual activities.
Eating a healthy, balanced diet will give your child more energy and will help them to maintain a healthy weight. Keep an eye on portion sizes, and limit sugary drinks, junk food and sugary snacks. This will help to keep your child fit for life.