It seems that our kids are exercising less and eating more – and that’s a problem. It’s not just a case of being overweight at a young age – although that’s definitely something to worry about, but exercise has been proven to aid learning.
The Harvard Health blog recently featured their findings on how regular aerobic exercise boosts the size of the hippocampus – that’s the part of the brain that operates the memory and ability to learn. Imagine how much better any child would do if they found it easier.
Unfortunately, a recent news item revealed that children’s level of exercise started to decrease at SEVEN!
Many of today’s youngsters have grandparents who were able to leave home in the morning and, as long as they turned up for meals, were allowed to run around the area all day.
As we are more and more aware of the dangers to youngsters they’re more and more protected so they aren’t allowed out of your sight until they get to a reasonably responsible age. Not only are they not free to exercise, but there is that magnet in the form of a variety of screens – computers, tablets, phones and game consoles – to content with.
Even small children have their own portable games consoles where they can ‘run’ and ‘jump’ with Tinkerbell progressing to Lara Croft, XMen or other exotic characters depending on their age – no wonder they don’t do so much exercise.
Unless you have a keen footballer, dancer or gymnastics fanatic in your household, getting them to do more exercise is often an uphill struggle.
Here are our top tips to help your kids to get that all important daily exercise fix:
- If they can get them to walk or cycle to school – don’t always take the easy option of driving them there.
- If they can’t walk or cycle to school – can you park further away from the school gate and make the walk to school 10-15 minutes? You’ll also find it easier to find a car space!
- If they show an interest in a sport or class let them attend – whether it’s ballet or ballroom, rugby or rowing.
- Encourage them to log their exercise daily so they can see for themselves the difference it makes
- Only allow sweet treats or high calorie snacks if they ‘earn’ them with exercise
- Get a dog and make it their responsibility to walk it (or offer to exercise an elderly person’s dog)
- Make time for the whole family to do something active together – whether that’s a walk in a park or on a beach or a charity walk or run.
The NHS advise that children should be doing at least 60 minutes of exercise daily, including walking, cycling and running. On three days of the week they should include exercises for strong muscles (like gymnastics or climbing) and strong bones (like jumping, trampoline or running).
If your kids aren’t doing much, start small and work up – and watch their grades respond.