Fun ways to be active with your kids

Luke James
Medical Director Bupa Global and UK Insurance
26 February 2019
Next review due February 2022

Spending quality time with your kids often naturally includes exercise – whether that means chasing them around the park, dancing in the living room together or kicking a football across the garden. And that’s fantastic, because being active is really important for all of us – you and your kids. It’s also a great chance for bonding and having fun! Research shows that exercise can improve your child’s current health and set them up for better health in adulthood too.

How active should kids and adults be?

You might find there are days when your child doesn’t want to get off the sofa, or is glued to their favourite TV programme, video game or toy. And of course, that’s OK sometimes and very normal! But at the same time, they should ideally be doing a fair amount of physical activity most days too. UK guidelines recommend an hour a day for children over five, and three hours or more of active play a day for toddlers.

Just like your child, you need a good amount of physical activity – about two and a half hours of ‘moderate to intense’ exercise spread out across each week. That means exercise that gets you a bit sweaty or breathless and raises your heart rate. One example of how you could do this would be to do 30 minutes, five days a week.

Since everyone in your family will benefit from staying active, why not do it together? Here are six suggestions for how you could do just that.

Make it part of your routine

Being active will come easily if it’s part of your daily lives. Could you walk or cycle part of the school run together, for instance? Cycling can help to improve children’s balance, movement and confidence.

It could also be about building exercise into your weekend routine. For example, maybe you and your child could go swimming every Saturday. Swimming can help improve heart, lung and muscle health for adults and children alike. And heading to the pool doesn’t always need to feel like an exercise session. Even just playing around with inflatables can contribute.

Take your child’s lead

See what your child enjoys and do it together. That could mean anything from walking the dog, having a scavenger hunt, hiking, playing with a ball in the park, playing Frisbee, flying a kite, trampolining to joining fun runs. Just like you, your children are more likely to want to keep up forms of activity that make them feel excited.

Make the most of the seasons

Spring and summer days can be the perfect times to visit outdoor pools or organise a sports day with friends in the countryside. When winter arrives, 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.

Try 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 – perhaps you could join a group too.

Make household chores fun

You can make household chores 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 some 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!

Focus on muscles and bones

There are lots of traditional childhood games that are great for building muscle and bone strength. It could be climbing a tree (with adult supervision), playing on the swings, skipping or playing hopscotch. Gymnastics and dancing are good muscle and bone builders, as is touch rugby. As an adult, keeping your muscles and bones strong is also important as you age – so why not try these things together!

Here at Bupa we understand how important your family is. So with our family health insurance you can rest assured knowing that eligible treatment and support is available to you and your loved ones when you need it.

Luke James
Dr Luke James
Medical Director Bupa Global and UK Insurance

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