It is recommended by the NHS that children and young people aged 5 to 18 should get at least 60 minutes of aerobic activity per day. This activity should involve a mixture of moderate intensity activity, where the heart rate is raised and the child is slightly out of breath, and vigorous intensity activity. Vigorous intensity activity means that they should be breathing quite hard and fast and their heart rate should have increased significantly, so this includes activities such as fast running, cycling or various team games. A child’s daily activity should also include activities that strengthen muscles and bones. Children under the age of 5 should be encouraged to be as mobile as possible and should be physically active for at least 180 minutes (3 hours) a day, provided that they can walk unaided.
Ways to get children active
What with the allure of indoor entertainment there has been a vast rise in the sedentary behaviour of young people and children. The NHS recommends that this age group should reduce the amount of time they spend sitting watching TV, playing computer games and travelling by car. Instead they should replace these activities with far healthier and more fun alternatives.
When it comes to travelling, there are many ways for children to get in their recommended allotment of daily activity. By walking or cycling to school instead of getting the bus or being driven, walking the dog, rollerblading, skateboarding or another similar activity, children are getting some moderate intensity activity and having fun at the same time.
Getting active as a family is also a great way to encourage children to get moving. Weekend family activities such as football, trampolining, Frisbee or even just going to the park, are all fun activities that are also great ways to bond as a family and discover the world.
Similarly trips to woods, National Parks, camping and other activity based days out are also great ways to get active with your children during your free time. Healthy holidays, beach holidays in particular, create their own exercise combined with fun; children will naturally run, play and swim in these environments away from the distraction that technology provides.
Children in sport
Joining a local club or sports team is one of the easiest ways to ensure that a child stays active. Your local area or school is likely to provide either free or cheap memberships/lessons for a variety of different sports, from football to dance classes. Not only are these all good fun forms of exercise, but provides a social setting to motivate your child further.
Change4Life Sports Clubs is an initiative promoted by the NHS designed to increase physical activity levels in less active children in primary and secondary schools. It does this by using multisport themes and alternative school sports and using the inspiration provided by the Olympic and Paralympic games. By fostering a sense of belonging, establishing regular participation and responding to what the children want the initiative has had a significant positive effect on the children who have participated. School can now use their primary school sport funding to purchase Change4Life Sports Club resources.