Engaging in physical activity is an important part of a child’s development and growth1 and children and young people should be undertaking at least one type of aerobic and muscle strengthening exercise each week2.
But, most children aren’t interested in working out. What they’re interested in is having fun and expending built up energy so not to get bored or restless.
How you should encourage your kids to exercise
For a great way to fit exercise into your kids daily routine make the idea of exercising fun and a type of ‘play’ rather than putting emphasis on working out and keeping healthy.
Incorporating movement into games or setting them challenges is a great way for easy exercise that your child will enjoy and benefit from and you can easily join in with.
How long kids should exercise for
With an aim for at least 60 minutes of moderate intensity exercise recommended per day3, it can sometimes be difficult to get kids moving. Moderate intensity is where your heart rate increases and you’re breathing faster but you can still talk but not sing.4
Here’s a few things to try with your kids:
Running is an easy and simple form of exercise and a great way to keep children and young people busy. Kids can run anywhere but open spaces are best and most risk averse. If you only have a small space for them to be active in you can mix up how they run by doing ‘on the spot’ movements. This can include:
- Fast feet (running on the spot with feet hardly lifting from the ground)
- High knees (running on the spot with knees lifted to the chest)
- Butt kicks (running on the spot with heels touching or near the buttocks)
If you do have the space available such as a garden you can turn running into team sports or games such as relay races, obstacle courses, wheelbarrow races and tag5.
Jumping is another good aerobic exercise that is easy for children to do. Not only is jumping working the cardiovascular system but it helps to strengthen muscles within the legs6 and improve bone health7.
Different types of fun jumps include:
- Skipping – there’s a huge range of different skipping techniques and this can be fun for children to try and master. Start with the basic jump and work up to moves such as criss cross. If you have multiple children they can take turns skipping with one long rope.
- Jumping jacks – a great move to improve agility an strength.
- One foot hops – test their balance and see how many hops can be done on each foot.
A great game involving jumping is hopscotch. You can use chalk or tape to mark out the squares and this can keep kids entertained for a while.
You can easily join in with the kids from actively participating in the games and challenges with them or by sitting on the sidelines and keeping score. By using encouraging and motivating signals the kids will stay engaged in the exercise and having family time is known to improve a child’s wellbeing8.
Alongside regular exercise, keep your kids immune system and health in check by using vitamin supplements to make sure they’re getting all the nutrition they need.
Last updated: 29 April 2020
3 As source 2
4 As source 2