8 Easy Ways to Keep Your Kids Active

We all know that staying active is important.  But just how can you encourage your children to put down the tech and peel themselves off the sofa?

Instilling a love of being active and having fun while moving will make a huge difference to your children's long-term health.

Read on for 8 easy ways to keep your kids active.

The more active children are when they are young, the more likely it is that they will grow into healthy adults, and continue to enjoy exercise as they age.

Forming good exercise habits at a young age is a gift that keeps on giving for the rest of your kid’s life.

Exercise helps children to build stronger muscles, boosts bone density, helps maintain a healthy weight, promotes mood and self-esteem, and encourages better sleep.

We all owe it to our children to make their childhoods as active as possible.

Here are some simple ways for you to introduce more activity into your child’s life, and turn them into exercise fans - for life.

Start Young

Quite simply, the sooner you start getting kids active and outdoors the better.

Simple things like taking your children to the playground, a local park or woodland as often as possible gets them used to being outdoors.

It helps build their immune system, strengthens their bodies, and is great for you too.

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Encourage Them

Encourage your child to swing, climb, run and jump.  And let them push the limits fo what they can do every day!

Bite your tongue on those immortal mum words "Be careful" and let them explore the limits of their own bodies and strength, testing their limits and learning and discovering more about themselves every day.

Explain the importance of exercise as a vital part of physical and mental health, and be available to your child to exercise and have fun together.

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Vitamin N

Shocking statistics emerged recently about how little time young children spend outside - often less than that allowed many prisoners!

Don't let your child be incarcerated with their screens, get them outdoors learning and having fun.

Visit local forests, woodland, fields, meadows, beaches, rivers and moors.

Walk, explore, take up geocaching, tickle tadpoles, climb trees or watch insects.

Museums and theme parks are great, of course, but there is plenty of free learning and free fun to be had outdoors.

Set kids up for succes and help them to develop their natural urge to become nature explorers.

When you go on holiday pack a nature kit with binoculars, bug catchers and field guides.

Take a football, a frisbee and some beach toys.

Find the nearest nature, heritage or forest trails to your location; visit a local WWT or RSPB site; build dens in the woods; and embrace nature rather than spending all your holiday at commercial sites.

If you're not sure where to start, check out our list of activities for happier. healthier outdoor kids.

Be a Role Model

Let your child see that you have an active life, walking, cycling, running and enjoying it.

Show them how to be a couch potato and that becomes their normal.

Even if your child doesn't enjoy school PE, try to find other ways for them to be active and have fun.  

Maybe another team game they haven't tried, or try something different like ice skating or kids yoga.

Always make the active choice. 

Take the stairs rather than the lift, walk rather than take the car short distances, and show your kids how easily you can incorporate exercise into everyday life.

When you are watching TV together, create mini challenges during the ad breaks.

Who can jump on the spot the longest, who can hold a plank position the longest, who can do the most star jumps?

Make after school a fun time with a routine of outdoor play and exercise, not a time when everyone comes home and sits in front of a screen.

Put your phone away and ask them to kick a ball around with you, go for a walk or go to the playground.

Walk More

Make walking a part of everyday life.

Leave the car at home and walk to the shops or the playground, walk to school as often as possible, and aim to fit a walk into your day, every day.

Leave the pushchair at home and put babies in a sling or wrap.

For older toddlers, take a carrier or hipseat so they can get a lift when little legs are tired.

You'll be amazed at how far little ones can walk once it becomes a habit.

Make walking fun by taking up geocaching, getting (or borrowing) a dog or by having some of these fun grab and go printable scavenger hunts ready.

Simple games like Follow the Leader or Simon Says are perfect for getting younger (and even older) children hopping, skipping, jumping - and laughing.

In the spring and summer, begin a new family habit of a 20-30 minute walk after dinner every evening.  

It will help digestion and give you all a chance to chat, reconnect and have fun together, bringing your family closer together as the warm evenings progress.

Plan to take a longer family walk every weekend.

You could aim to complete a long-distance route such as the Ridgeway or the Wales Coast Path over a year, completing a bit each weekend.

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Go swimming

Swimming is a fantastic form of exercise for both you and your child.

Babies can get used to a pool from an early age and young children love splashing about in the water, long before formal swimming lessons are a good idea.

Choose a small class in a warm water pool for everyone's comfort.

From the age of 3 or so book swimming lessons that your child can work their way up through.

Check with your local pool for great value classes all year round.

Read more: How to Encourage Your Child’s Confidence in the Swimming Pool

Get on your bikes

Another fun way to get everyone active is to go cycling together.

Once your child can sit up independently you have the option to buy them a cycle helmet and put them in a seat on your bike.

This gives babies the chance to get used to the movement of a bike and learn about balance and is a good way of building up their enthusiasm for cycling.

When they are old enough, buy your child a balance bike to get used to balance and out having fun.  

From there they can graduate to their own road bike.

When children are older and more experienced riders, they can get involved in more challenging cycling sports like mountain biking.

Use your garden

Outdoor play is a great way for your child to let off steam, burn energy and de-stress.

If you have a garden, set aside some space for the kids to play.

Having space to kick a ball, practice basketball shooting, play swingball or enjoy trampolining makes a big difference.

Give your child some space to play and create in.

Help them to create fairy gardens, dinosaur parks and building sites.

You could even teach your child how to garden - or learn how to plant and maintain a garden together.

For more ideas of how to create the perfect garden for children, check out our board on Pinterest:

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As you can see introducing activity into your child's life is easy, and it is a great way to make sure you stay active yourself too.  Get out there and have fun!

Want more ideas for outdoor play?

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