This week Ciaran Robinson a personal trainer who runs CR Fitness in Salthill, Galway is our guest writer.
For school age children, physical activity is almost as important as their daily nutrition. Usually when schools are in session, you are somewhat guaranteed that they at least get some scheduled activity time with P.E. being a constant in most curriculum’s. However, what happens when schools close for the summer? Do you just let them run wild and figure out how to stay active for themselves? Or do you get involved and show them how much fun exercise can be.
The truth is that children love to run around. Unlike getting them to eat their greens, getting children to stay active is not a decision that will be met with a lot of resistance. However, with how social media and digital media centered our society is becoming, it is becoming more common to see kids wrapped up in their iPhone and iPads.
According to HealthyChildren.org, Children spend over seven hours per day using TVs, smartphones and other electronics. More often than not, doing this involves a lot of sitting or lying in one position. It is therefore necessary to get your tech-savvy children to understand that no technology can replace good old physical activity.
According to the HSE, Children need at least 60 minutes of physical activity daily. There are many ways that activity can be introduced into their day. But first, here are 3 good reasons why you need to keep your kids active:
- Get to Sleep Faster
For a lot of parents, getting children to sleep at night can be a difficult task. It is well understood that regular physical activity promotes good sleep. Not only that, studies have shown that children who are more physically active during the day fall asleep faster and for longer at night. Keeping our kids active is not only beneficial from a fitness point of view.
- Prevent Obesity
Over the past few years, obesity is affecting more children than ever before. There is no doubt that the digital age is a contributing factor. Social media and online gaming are the new normal are sedentary activities. Many parents know that their children are not as physically active as they once were when they were children. Furthermore, there is a higher risk of children becoming obese adults. This problem needs to be tackled by engaging our kids in physical activity. It’s fundamental to obesity prevention.
- Physical Activity Builds Bone and Muscle
Children of school going age still have developing bodies. This is a great time to get your child adjusted to a life of exercise. They are at a stage in their lives when the greatest bone mass gains occur. It is therefore important that they get in as much physical activity. It will not only increase muscle strength but it will also improve bone density and overall bone health.
A great way to encourage children to become more physically active is by introducing them to activities that they can have fun with. Here are 10 ideas that you can try out this summer.
- Charity Run – Set yourself and the kids a challenge and complete a run. Some organised runs welcome children and buggies and allow walking as well as running for the smaller participants. Also, there is the weekly park run in many parks around the country – check out https://www.parkrun.ie/
- Nature Adventure – Collecting shells, or stones, doing bark rubbings.. finding a den in the trees. There are lots of things that can be in the great outdoors. Scavenger hunts can be made up or printed off the internet. Here is a nice one from Horton Grove Nature Reserve.
- Family Bike Ride – If all the family are able to cycle (or younger kids can sit in child bike seats on the adult’s bike) then this is a lovely activity which can become a habit over the summer.
- Monkey Bars or climbing trees – Find places for kids to swing and climb and they will be occupied for ages!
- Chalk Games – There is nothing like an old fashioned game of hopscotch. Or use the chalk to draw, tell stories, or just let the kids use their imagination.
- Water Games – When we get a nice sunny day kids love nothing better than to take out the water guns, paddling pools or water balloons and get soaked! There are also giant animal sprinklers that you can inflate, attach to your hose and let the kids go crazy. (Let’s hope there is no water hose ban this summer.)
- Organize a game – Good old fashioned games never go out of fashion. Kids love all the different variations of hide and seek. There is also build up, tip the can, bulldog, queenie -I-O, hundreds of games. Sometimes they need encouragement to start the games off.
- Sport: Tennis/ football / Rounders – think about the activities you played as a child when you were outside all day. When Wimbledon is on kids love to play tennis and when the world cup is on footballs are taken out. You don’t have to wait for a sporting event. Have your own mini Olympics with your kids friends.
- Swimming: Going to a local pool or swimming in the sea is always a hit with the kids. Water Safety Ireland run week-long water safety camps and awards around the coast for children from age 4 and up.
- Camping: if camping is not your thing, there are campsites in Ireland with the tents already set up; all you have to do is arrive with your sleeping bags. There are also glamping pods with proper beds and running electricity. The fresh air and fun for kids is priceless. There is also nothing like sitting around a campfire on a summers evening.
Engaging your children in physical activity will do more than keep them fit. It will teach them the concept of sportsmanship and teamwork. It will help them make friends. It will also build a habit of fitness and exercise. As a parent, try to get involved with your children and try to stay active this summer. Be their biggest fan and make sure you keep your kids moving.
Ciaran Robinson: Ciaran Robinson Personal Training