Making Family Fitness Fun

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Last month it was recorded in the papers that dozens of morbidly obese children had been placed in care because of concerns about their health. Out of 74 who were taken from their parents for their own protection during the past five years, councils recorded that one youngster weighed 23st and eight were more than 20st.
These astonishing  figures have again raised concerns about levels of childhood obesity in the UK, some experts saying that parents who allowed their children to become so overweight were guilty of ‘neglect and abuse’.
Inactive children are likely to become inactive adults. The National Obesity Forum recommends that weight must be confronted in the same way as we do smoking, with children ‘converted’ to healthy living at a young age.
Whilst a healthy diet is crucial to our children’s health, physical activity is equally important in that it produces and improves overall physical and psychological health and has tremendous social benefits for both adults and children. Research also demonstrates that increased physical activity will increase life expectancy and decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease. So physical exercise in childhood is important not only for childhood health and wellbeing but it lays a firm foundation for the whole of life.  Therefore as parents or guardians we all have a major role to play in ensuring that our children have plenty of opportunity for physical exercise.
Exercising together
Is your child too busy watching television all day to go and play with friends? Well, as a parent/carer, have you ever considered making some fitness rules at home? And what better way to get your child in shape than by taking the lead and exercising together? Exercising together will not only improve the health of your child, but can also be great fun, and will help develop stronger connections between you and your child.

Making family fitness fun
Exercising together needn’t be complicated. It can be simple things, like going on a walk together or with a group of friends, putting on a fun Fitness DVD , dancing together to music for 15-30 minutes a day, doing chores like cleaning the windows or gardening together. They’re ‘chores’ if you do them alone, but if you do them together, they become fun.

Other things you could do are to visit the park or take swimming lessons together.  You’ll be surprised how many calories you burn up in the process! When going out with the children or taking them to school, whenever possible leave the car at home. Walk to the shops and take the stairs instead of elevators. Whenever I go out walking with my grandchild and husband we try to make it fun. We tend to walk hand-in- hand, and play a little hop, jump and skip game. It really can be lots of fun and it gets the heart rate up!

Benefits of exercising together
Exercising will not only helps maintain your kid’s physical health, but also his/her overall growth. It increases your child’s muscle control, motor skill development, co-ordination, balance and spatial and perceptual awareness. Moreover, exercising together helps your child to become independent, learning early on how to share, follow directions and co-operate.

Start early
Exercise is a behaviour that can be reinforced at a very early age. A toddler could be taken out in a buggy for a walk or jog with their parents/ carers. These days, sedentary lifestyles refer to having such a routine that does not involve any exercise at all. A person may not indulge in any physical activity either because he or she is involved in such tasks which do not require any motion, or because he or she deliberately avoids engaging in much of exercise. For children exercise should be paramount within there every day life’s that is normal. Inculcating exercise at an early stage would help them understand that physical activity is part of a normal life for an adult.

Set a routine
Exercising with a child can begin as soon as he/she starts to walk. Children five years can take up dance and movement routines. Getting started might be difficult, as exercising might feel like a task for your child. So, set a routine. Even 15 minutes a day outside together is a good start. During the weekend, plan an outing to the park. Before you know it, you’ll have worked up to 20 minutes daily, with an hour on weekends. Always insist on walking short distances.

How much is too much
Getting your child fit is important but over exercising will only lead to a burnout. Watch out for symptoms like, muscle soreness, irritability, sleeping changes or loss of appetite.

Great for developing bones 
Any kind of physical exercise is great for your kids, but the best ones for their bones are weight-bearing activities like walking, dancing, running, hiking, tennis, basketball, football and gymnastics. Muscles get stronger when we use them. The same idea applies to bones: the more work they do, the stronger they get. (Children who tend to play outside will also have higher vitamin D levels.) Cycling and Swimming promote your kids’ general health, but are not weight-bearing exercises and will not help build bone density. Organized team game and sports can be fun and help build confidence, but they are not the only way to build healthy bones.

Bone building exercise include  Walking, Running, Jumping rope, Tennis, Gymnastics, Dancing, Skateboarding, Football, Basketball Volleyball, Aerobics, Hockey and ice hockey.
The most important thing is for your kids to spend less time sitting and more time on their feet and moving. Alone or with friends, at home or at the park, one of the best gifts you can give your children is a lifelong desire for physical activity.

Mirror game: For body flexibility
This is a good aerobic activity which requires your child to do exactly as you do, as if he/she were your reflection in the mirror. Use movements that require stretching and flexibility such as stretching your hands up overhead bending at the waist, standing on your tip toes, doing deep knee bends, running on the spot etc.

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