Encouraging Children to be Physically Active in Nottingham
According to a study that was presented to the International Congress on Physical Activity and Public Health, British children are among the least physically active across the globe. The study showed that only 22% of boys and 15% of girls between the ages of 11 and 15 were doing the government’s recommendation of a minimum of one hour of moderate-intensity physical activity each day.
Therefore, it is more and more apparent that parents need to act to help their children become more active in their day-to-day lives. Let’s take a look at ways to encourage children and young people to be physically active.
- Relish every opportunity
Because our lives are so busy, it is easy to overlook opportunities for children and young people to do exercise during a typical day – instead of signing them up to a sports lesson once per week, for example.
Walking is a great way to get your children to do more exercise without making a lot of effort or spending money. For example, if you live close enough to your child’s school to walk, this is the best way to up how much exercise they’re doing. Another way is by encouraging your child to walk a family dog, whether it’s your dog or a relatives. Children really do enjoy such tasks, even when they say they don’t want to initially!
- Don’t stop because of the weather
The weather in the UK is often the perfect excuse not to go out and do exercise. However, because of where we live, we just have to accept that for the majority of the year we will have to be out in all weather. In fact, we could say that there is no such thing as bad weather, just poor clothing choices!
- Lead by example
One of the best ways to encourage your children to become more active is by being more active yourself. Children follow the examples set by their parents. If your children see you doing physical activities as a regular part of your lifestyle then they will think this is the norm and will be more likely to be physically active themselves.
- Make activities fun
Once children see exercise as a chore it becomes a battle. Exercise has to be fun if you want your children to enjoy being physically active adults. It is a good idea to try and find the time to do something physical with your children each weekend. Nottingham is so fortunate in that it has a lot of outdoor spaces on its doorstep – from Sherwood Pines to Wollaton Hall, there are so many places to explore! If the weather is bad, there’s always rock climbing or ice skating!
- Explain why it’s important
Whilst you do need to be careful when addressing things such as weight gain and appearance, it is important to tell your children just why exercise is so important in your daily life. Concentrate on how exercise is good for both your physical and mental wellbeing. Education is key to creating children that become active adults. They need to know that an exercise-induced sweat is a good thing, as is being out of breath when running about. It’s also important to ensure they know what talent in sports isn’t necessary! You don’t have to be good at something to enjoy it!
- Talk with a GP or nurse with your child
If your child is very inactive or is overweight, it might be a good idea to broach the subject of exercise with a medical professional. Your child’s GP might even have some suggestions about suitable activities for your child.
- Choose appropriate activities
Don’t try and make a six-year-old child do a Park Run if they have no interest – this will only be off-putting! Encourage your child to tell you what they’d like to try and see if you can incorporate it. It means taking him or her to a trampoline park, then so be it.
- Provide equipment to encourage physical activities
Things like balls, skipping ropes and trampolines are great things to have in your garden. They encourage children to be active without the need for nagging!
- Turn screens off
Children who have unlimited access to television or devices will certainly be less active. Limit how much time you let your children spend in front of screens, they will definitely use the time for more physical activities when screentime is limited.
- Don’t force them or overdo it
Remember to tell your children to listen to their bodies and respond appropriately. They need to take breaks as and when necessary and not push their bodies to the limts while they are still developing!
Being physically active in Nottingham is so important! Spend time outdoors with your children in all of the wonderful parks and outdoor spaces Nottinghamshire has to offer. Most importantly, make physical activity a habit. This is certainly the best way to encourage your children to lead a physically active lifestyle for life.