Staying active with your kids

Sophie Miller
Regional Training Facilitator, Bupa Health Clinics
03 June 2016
A mother helps a boy learn to cycle

Staying active is important for kids and adults alike. Exercising together fits in with busy schedules, and gives you a chance to have fun as a family.

Exercise is one of the best prescriptions for health, and this goes for children as well as adults. Since everyone in the family will benefit from staying active, why not do it together? 

How much exercise do we all need?

According to government guidelines, adults should get at least 30 minutes of physical activity, on five days each week. This means exercise that makes you warm and a bit breathless and sweaty. 

Children aged five to 16 need even more physical activity, at least an hour a day and up to several hours each day. For kids under five, who can walk by themselves, it’s at least three hours a day.

Both children and adults should also do exercise to strengthen muscle and bones. For adults it’s twice a week and for kids aged five to 16 it’s three times a week.

Fit exercise into your daily routine

If you can fit some exercise into your daily routine, that’s great. Can you walk, cycle or scooter to school and work?

Take your children’s lead

See what your child enjoys and do it together, whether that means walking the dog, having a scavenger hunt, hiking, playing with a ball in the park, playing Frisbee, flying a kite, trampolining, or joining fun runs.

Make the most of the seasons

Now that summer is here, swimming is an appealing choice, too. When winter comes, you could try sledding in the park if you have snow, or indoor (dry slope) skiing even if you don’t. Ice skating is another nice seasonal activity.

Feet, jumping in pink trainers 

Get involved with school and group activities

Does your child have the opportunity to swim with other kids at school, or with a club? They might also enjoy a dance class, or playing netball, hockey, badminton or football. While your kids are doing these group activities, you can use this time to do your own favourite exercise.

Make household chores fun

Chores are part of family life and you can make it fun by doing them together. Time to tidy up? You can turn the job into a race and see who is the fastest. Or put on the music and make your housework a song and dance performance. Washing the car is another idea – just watch and see how long it takes to turn into a water fight! 

Activities for building strong muscles and bones

To build strong muscles and bones, your child doesn’t need to go to a gym. Most gyms have age restrictions in place or may offer family gym time with supervision once your child is a certain age. Instead, there are lots of traditional childhood games that are good for this, whether it’s climbing a tree (with adult supervision), playing on the swings, skipping, or a having game of hopscotch. Gymnastics and dancing are good muscle and bone builders, and so is touch rugby.

Fit for life

It’s all about having a good time together but there are also some serious benefits. You’ll be building a strong cardiovascular system and keeping a healthy weight. You’ll also be turning the tide on childhood obesity, keeping your child’s bones and muscles strong while they grow, and building confidence that will last a lifetime.


Sophie Miller
Regional Training Facilitator, Bupa Health Clinics

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