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“How much exercise should my child be doing?”
It’s a question we get asked a lot. In this world of constant information and changing guidelines, it can be hard to figure out what’s actually best for our children. At Premier Education we don’t have the answers for everything, but we do know a lot about children’s physical activity! In this article, we’ll try to answer the question in the most clear and practical way we can.
Between the ages of 5 and 17, the answer is: at least seven hours a week!
The NHS recommends that this should be split into 60 minutes a day, but it’s the weekly total that’s more important. This may seem a lot, but don’t worry, there are so many ways children can reach this total.
It’s good to remember that schools will cater for a decent amount of your child’s daily activity. Plus, the chances are, your child loves to run around on their lunch break – which absolutely counts as exercise! If you think your child isn’t getting in their 60 minutes a day, there’s plenty of before and after school clubs available, which can easily add 30 minutes to an hour of quality, structured activity.
Ultimately, you know your child better than anybody else, so use these numbers as guidelines. Seven hours a week is simply the recommended minimum – if you can manage 10-15 hours a week, for example, that’s even better! Just make sure that they’re resting and recovering properly, which means plenty of water, healthy food and sleep. Of course, if your child has any health issues, these should be considered when interpreting the guidelines.
To help your child reach their target, here are some examples of moderate activity for children. These are easy to fit into daily life and should still get the heart rate going a little.
Something that a lot of people overlook is that children over 7 years old should also do exercise which helps strengthen muscles and bones. This kind of exercise should be done 3 times a week and count towards the 60 minutes a day. In simple terms, strengthening activities can involve moving heavy things, moving quickly or absorbing impact: think star jumps, sprinting or tug of war, for example.
Strengthening exercise can have a huge impact on children’s health as they approach adulthood, as it can help them have healthier joints, better posture, lower blood pressure and higher confidence for years to come. Here are some child-friendly examples of activities which help strengthen muscles and bones:
Hopefully we’ve cleared up some of the confusion around children’s activities. If you want to make sure your child’s getting on the move a little more, be sure to check out our before-school and after-school sessions which fit nicely into your weekly routine.