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How can children be encouraged to be more active?

Make plenty of opportunities for children to be active and give them plenty of support and encouragement. Let them know that exercise is important in everyone’s life and should be part of the daily routine. Think of this as a change for the whole family and don’t put focus on your overweight child. Seize daily opportunities to get your family moving and build these into the daily routine.

For example:

  • Walking to and from school and other local places, whenever possible
  • Using the stairs rather than the lift
  • Scheduling a family swim or bike ride at the weekends

Try to limit the amount of time spent doing passive and sedentary activities, such as watching television and playing computer games. Sedentary activity needs to be balanced with physical activity.

Help children to do more strenuous physical activity. It doesn’t matter what it is, provided it lasts for at least 20 minutes and they enjoy it: dancing, cycling, swimming, and skating are all forms of exercise and good fun. Respect your children’s individuality and let them make their own choices about exercise as far as possible. For example, let them choose which sports activity they would like to try – do not force them to take lessons in a particular sport if they dislike it.

Here are some tips for getting them moving:

  • Set an example – they will notice whether you lead a physically active lifestyle. Children are more likely to copy what you do than what you say.
  • Look for ways to incorporate activity into everything you do, and make this as much fun as possible. Turn activity into games or social activities.
  • Walk or cycle with them to and from school – that will benefit both your children and you and will show them that you are active too.
  • Fro under – 11s, provide plenty of play equipment at home – hoppers, balls, trampolines, basketball rings, scooters, bikes and skipping ropes.
  • Encourage them to enjoy a wide range of sports – football, informal racket games, gymnastics dance lessons, trampolining and swimming are all suitable for under – 11s. For older children, athletics, roller/skating, hockey, tennis, badminton, netball, jogging, sailing are also suitable.
  • They should pick activities that they enjoy – having fun is the key to exercising for life.

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