Great ways to Keep Kids Active
How much activity is enough for toddlers & pre-schoolers? It’s generally recommended that kids have at least two hours of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day. Given that they don’t have a lot of stamina, small amounts of activity lasting for 5-15 minutes at a time is quite suitable and will soon add up to 2 hours. Here's some of the reasons why kids are not as active as they should be, as well as some fun ways to keep your kids active during the holidays.
What is classed as 'activity'?
- Moderate activity includes thing like riding a bike, brisk walking or climbing on play equipment
- Vigorous activity is something that gets your child's heart rate & respiratory rate up and gets them a bit hot and sweaty like running around & kicking a ball, swimming, dancing, soccer, football, tennis, netball or a visit to the skate park.
To include more activity in your child’s day you don’t have to deliberately “exercise” you can be active in many different ways
Here’s 10 easy ways to increase you families level of physical activity
- Walk to childcare, kinder or school
- Make regular trips to the playground or skate park. Primary schools have great playgrounds and open areas like basketball courts & ovals to run around outside of school hours, so after school, during the holidays or on weekends
- Run around in the backyard with the dog, a ball or playing chasey
- Dance to their favourite music or DVD or learn nursery rhymes with actions like “ring-a-ring-a-rosie”
- It doesn’t have to be summer to go to the beach, take a bucket & shovel or ball and run in the sand
- Two or more kids will enjoy racing from one end of the room or yard to the other, try running races or with bikes, scooters or ride-ons (but supervise to avoid collisions!)
- Teach your children how to do head stands, hand stands, somersaults, cartwheels or any other fun activities you remember from gymnastics or school
- Teach them how to catch, kick, throw or bat a ball
- Fly a kite at the local oval or park
- If you are taking your toddler somewhere in a pram or stroller, let them walk some of the way
Your children are far more likely to have fun getting active if the whole family is involved, so lead by example, if you are active your kids will follow in your footsteps.
Find activities that they enjoy
Some kids have better balance, some have great hand – eye coordination and others will have rhythm and a passion for dance. While it’s important to have fun with a range of activities to keep your child challenged, interested and learning new skills, the more they enjoy it the more they’ll want to do it.
What’s stopping kids from being active?
- Technology! Basically the internet, television, DVDs, mobile phones, computer games and anything else with a screen, is keeping kids from being active and contributing to the fact that more kids are overweight than ever before. To use anything with a screen children have to sit, usually for long periods of time. They can become quite addictive, meaning kids would often rather partake in these sedentary activities than get outside and run around.
- Another factor responsible for inactivity levels of young children is the overuse of prams & strollers.
- Using the car to travel short distances or living outside walking distance to parks and shops also means kids miss out on extra exercise. In this case it pays to invest in a trampoline or climbing frame for the backyard. You'll find equipment of all shapes and sizes to accommodate even the smallest areas.
- Many parents work long hours and are unable to include playing with their kids and physical activity (even for themselves) in their busy schedule.
How do we avoid or change habits of a sedentary lifestyle?
- Limit time in front of screens to one hour a day
- Encourage toddlers to walk for short periods and use the pram/stroller to rest instead of being wheeled or carried the whole time
- Leave the car at home. Walk or ride bikes instead, especially if you are within a few kilometers of your destination
- Your kids can have their own broom, rake or vacuum cleaner to join in with some vigorous household chores. They love helping out and will get some exercise at the same time
- Keep some simple sports equipment in your car or a ball in the pram, if you happen to see an oval or park you can stop off for a spontaneous throw of the Frisbee or kick the ball. It only needs to be 10 or 15 minutes
If you are an active person your kids automatically will be too. They’ll see that this is a natural part of who you are and won't view exercise or activity as a chore. This is something we can’t take a ‘do as I say, not as I do’ attitude on!
- Encourage them and offer positive feedback whenever they are active, especially if it’s clear they are having a hard time with it.
- Let them choose their organized sport or activity such as gymnastics, dancing, football, soccer, netball, basketball, tennis or swimming. The possibilities are endless but if your child does not enjoy it then it's worth giving them the opportunity to try something else.
- Most kids are naturally happier when they’re outside. Have a picnic in the back yard & let them eat their snacks or lunch outside; they’re much more likely to want to run around afterwards if they’re already out in the fresh air.
- When you’re out walking or even in your backyard, show them the beautiful flowers, unusual shaped leaves on the trees or ask them to find different objects like pieces of bark or sticks. Keep an eye out for different colored cars you pass as you go walking. Keeping their minds active will reduce the chances of them getting bored if that’s a concern and they’ll learn about some of the wonders of nature along the way.
Here's some more suggestions for Getting Outdoors
Benefits of active kids
- Increased fitness for you and your kids
- More activity will generally mean better quality sleep for your child (and you!)
- Your child is far less likely to be overweight
- Improved co-ordination & concentration
- Being out & about gives you kids many learning opportunities, one of the most important being road rules and road safety
- Active kids are generally happier, more relaxed & have more self esteem and confidence
- Kids will learn many different social skills as most sports and activities involve sharing and taking it in turns. Making friends and getting along with others will be an added benefit
- Kids love to walk or ride & chat, you’ll have some great conversations!
- If we start out being active at a young age it will be carried through to adulthood
When Winter Hits
If it’s not raining then it’s probably freezing cold and just the thought of going outside is enough to make you shiver. So how do you avoid being housebound during the winter
- Play Centres are perfect places to visit on cold winter days
- Get the family rugged up in a good winter coat, scarf, gloves and beanie. Go to the usual places and notice the differences between summer & winter. Talk to your kids about why some of the trees have no leaves on them
- Most kids couldn’t think of anything more fun than running & jumping in puddles so put on their raincoat and gumboots and let them go for it
- Take the kids to an indoor swimming pool or skating ring for something different
- Ten pin bowling is great fun for kids of all ages
- Some summer sports have indoor versions such as cricket & netball, otherwise many sports are traditionally played in winter like netball, football, soccer & hockey
Rainy Day Activities
- You don’t need a lot of room to sit on the floor and roll, gently throw or bounce the ball backwards & forwards. Young kids may even learn a little self control with space restrictions as they usually tend to throw or kick as hard as they can until their skills become more refined
- Try using a balloon instead of a ball
- Build a cubby-house out of furniture & blankets
- Hide & seek
Check out some other suggestions for Rainy Day Activities
Baby safety in the cold weather - Keep in mind that babies aren’t able to regulate their body temperature the same way we can so it is important to keep them warm with one extra layer of clothing than what you have on, but keep checking to make sure they aren’t too hot by putting your fingers in the front or back of their clothes to feel if their chest or back is too warm or clammy/moist. Their hands and feet are not a good indication because they will usually always be cold.
To help keep your kids active try including a family trip to the park, local oval or beach in your recreation time. We are so lucky, having some of the most beautiful parks, playgrounds and reserves throughout Melbourne & the Mornington Peninsula so pack your picnic basket & take a road trip.
Tell us about your favourite place below