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The benefits of exercise and physical activity cannot be overstated – both for children and adults alike. Regular exercise strengthens muscles and bones, reduces the risk of developing health issues and even helps coordination.
Children who are physically active not only benefit from better sleep, improved concentration and behaviour, as well as overall physical and mental wellness, but research has shown that they also turn into healthier adults.
So if exercise for kids is so great, why can it be such a challenge to get them moving? Unfortunately we live in a high-tech world, where televisions, computers, tablets and games consoles are prevalent. This means sedentary time – sitting still for long periods – has gradually increased.
In this article we look at how much physical activity children should be doing as well as some fun exercises we can encourage children to do in order to make them feel good and want to come back for more!
NHS physical activity guidelines state that children and young people should aim for 60 minutes of moderate or vigorous physical activity a day. Any kind of aerobic activity is ideal to achieve this as it means the heart beats faster and breathing rate increases, building cardiovascular fitness.
In addition to aerobic exercise, children should also aim to do muscle strengthening exercises throughout the week. Building muscle strength and flexibility are vital for day-to-day activities – even bending to tie your shoelace!
If you’re wondering how on earth you’ll make sure your children find time to fit all of this in, don’t panic! It’s likely that your young person is already getting a lot of the physical activity they need, through active play, PE or school sports, or simply by walking to school.
However, it is important to try and make sure kids are doing different types of exercise to keep them active and healthy.
Our after-school clubs are a great way of ensuring your child tries a wide range of sports and activities. Our highly-skilled coaches deliver football, gymnastics, multisports, archery, dodgeball… the possibilities are endless so why not see what’s available at your school today!
It’s worth pointing out that how much physical activity a child does is not dependent on whether they start the day with ten push ups or do jumping jacks while brushing their teeth! As stated earlier, age-appropriate exercise can easily be built into their daily routine, to keep activity fun and engaging.
Rather than thinking of physical activity as exercising within a formal setting such as a gym, or playing sport for a team, look at ways to get active through games and day-to-day activities like cycling to the shop or walking the dog.
For preschool children, active play throughout the day should be encouraged to strengthen muscles and improve flexibility and fitness. Try to reduce screen time as much as possible.
For school-age children, there really is no limit on activities to increase their heart rate and get their blood pumping. Playing tag or jumping rope during break times, kicking a football with friends at the weekend, or participating in after-school clubs as detailed above; these bursts of activity are great to get them moving.
It’s not always easy luring youngsters away from sofas and screens, especially in the cold weather. One way is to lead by example. Children typically mimic the behaviour of parents and carers, so by seeing you enjoying being active, it’s likely that they will want to get involved too.
Make time to get active as a family. Plan hikes, bike rides, stretching activities or just some simple exercises like planks or bear crawls – ideal to work the core muscles (and have a giggle when you all inevitably fall over!).
Make it fun! Focus on activities that your young person enjoys, and offer choices so they feel empowered and engaged. Support your child, so if they show an interest in a particular sport, encourage them and make sure they have the opportunity to take part.
To guarantee plenty of fun and physical activity during school holidays, why not consider booking onto one of our holiday camps? Our flexible camps are based at numerous locations around the UK, and ensure children try a wide range of sports and activities.
There are a number of fun exercises for kids which can be done at home, ideal for the chillier seasons. Here are some examples to start you off.
Warm up exercises for kids
Before you and your kids make a start, why not have a go at this fun and simple warm-up routine?
This is a great chance to get moving while listening to your child’s favourite tunes! This activity can be done anywhere in the house, all you need is a bit of floor space and some music to get your young person dancing and jumping. Try and get the whole family involved, and why not aim for some endurance? Can you all dance along to ten songs in a row?
Children love to be challenged with an obstacle course and it doesn’t need to be complicated. Try placing some cushions spaced apart on the floor for them to use as stepping stones, add some tape as a ‘balance beam’, and perhaps see if your kid can balance a plastic plate on their head for one stretch? With a bit of imagination, this is a great chance to get children doing a variety of movements and using a wide range of different muscles.
Yoga is brilliant for all ages. It uses slow, controlled movements and poses to develop strong bodies and calm minds. If you have a yoga mat, set it up for your little one to use, but if not, don’t worry, the living room carpet will be just fine.
Simple yoga poses like child’s pose, downward-facing dog, cobra and warrior two are a great place to start. There are plenty of online classes that are straightforward to follow and ideal for kids.