Why is getting active important for families?
Being active has important health benefits at any age. But childhood is a crucial time to get into good habits. The benefits you gain from being active in childhood can last a lifetime. Being physically active as a child can:
- help build strong bones and muscles
- maintain a healthy weight
- improve mental wellbeing
- help with social skills
Having positive experiences of being active at a young age can boost confidence too. And that can make children more likely to want to be active as they get older.
What are the benefits of exercising as a family?
Most people in the UK – both children and adults – don’t currently get enough exercise for good health. Getting more active as a family is the best way to get your kids moving. And this can help you as parents to be more active too!
As a parent, you act as a role model for your children. When they see you being active – and especially if you’re positive about it – they’re more likely to want to take part.
Younger children in particular will rely on adults in the family to organise and create opportunities for activity. If you get children into active habits early on it will be easier for it to just become a way of life for your family.
Getting fit and active as a family can have a real benefit on your family relationships too. You may find you’re spending more, quality time together. Having the whole family involved can help keep you motivated too.
The biggest factor for getting children to be more active is enjoyment. As a family, the key is to focus on having fun and trying new things. There’s no need to worry about fitness or how good you are at a particular activity. And if you’re all enjoying yourselves, chances are you’re more likely to keep it up.
How much exercise do families need?
UK guidelines recommend children and young people aged 5 to 18 should do an average of at least 60 minutes of physical activity per day. This can be spread out across the day – it doesn’t all have to be in one go. Ideally, they should be doing a range of different activities during this time.
Adults should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity, or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity throughout the week. That might be half an hour of brisk walking or cycling, five times a week.
Don’t be disheartened if these targets feel hard to achieve at first. If you don’t tend to be very active as a family, any increase in physical activity helps.
Start by thinking about some day-to-day ideas for getting more active, and limit the time you spend just sitting around. This might include things like walking to the shops rather than driving, and cutting down on screen time. Then you can start to build it up and try some other activities.