The benefits of exercise for children

The benefits of exercise for children are indisputable. It enhances their physical and mental health and prevents obesity. It even helps their learning and concentration. And yet, a recent study conducted by the British Journal of Sports medicine found that children’s exercise levels were declining from the age of seven.

The benefits of exercise for children are indisputable. It enhances their physical and mental health and prevents obesity. It even helps their learning and concentration. And yet, a recent study conducted by the British Journal of Sports medicine found that children's exercise levels were declining from the age of seven. Here are some ideas to get children interested in health and fitness.

How much exercise should children be doing?

The NHS guidelines suggest that children under 5 years old shouldn’t be inactive for long periods. The only exception is when they’re asleep. This really surprised me. Especially because children start school at four years old, and from then on they spend a lot of time sitting.

12 tips for a brilliant day out at the Black Country Living Museum near Dudley in the West Midlands. This is a living history museum that is perfect for visitors of all ages from small children to adults. It is an excellent, full day out with both food outlets and picnic areas available. Includes the Dudley Canal and Tunnel Trust.

Even after the age of five, children aged up to 18 years old should exercise for at least an hour a day. This should range from moderate to vigorous activity. The guidelines also state that on three days a week, the hour of exercise should include a workout that strengthens muscles and bones.

I have to admit, I had no idea children needed to exercise so much. I also wasn’t aware of the need to do specific exercises that strengthen muscles and bones. I was always under the impression that any physical activity would do.

How to get children active

I’ve written before about cheap ways to get children involved in sport. I’m also working with Vitality Move to help them promote their fitness and music festival. The whole idea of the festival is to get people active. Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill is the face of the festival, and Trevor Nelson is heading up the music side of things. So even if you don’t fancy running, you can walk, skip or dance a distance from a mile to 10K.

My children love sport and exercise and I’ve found the most important thing to keep them interested is to let them try different activities. My main sport as a child was swimming. After I stopped swimming competitively, I got into running, triathlon and water polo too. But if those aren’t the sports that my girls want to do, that’s fine by me. Both girls have tried a variety of sports already. For now, they’ve both settled on swimming and Libby also does rhythmic gymnastics and Lia does ballet.

The benefits of exercise for children are indisputable. It enhances their physical and mental health and prevents obesity. It even helps their learning and concentration. And yet, a recent study conducted by the British Journal of Sports medicine found that children's exercise levels were declining from the age of seven. Here are some ideas to get children interested in health and fitness.

But structured sports classes aren’t everything. It’s just as important to run around outside, play on the trampoline, walk in fields and splash in puddles. I’m not sure if I will go as far as to get my children doing muscle strengthening exercise when they’re older. The NHS suggest things like push-ups, but I’m pretty sure swimming will do just fine.

Do children understand the benefits of exercise?

Much as I try to ask the girls what they’ve learnt about at school, I don’t get much out of them. So I thought I’d see how much they understood about the benefits of exercise. It seems like they understand quite a bit.

If you’d like to take part in the VitalityMove fitness and music festival in either Chatsworth in July or Windsor in September, you can use the code NATALIE10 at the checkout for 10% off the ticket price. For every paying entry, VitalityMove will donate £1 to Diabetes UK.

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Please note, VitalityMove have allowed me to enter the VitalityMove fitness and music festival free of charge. They are also helping me with my training in order to allow me to promote the event.

9 Comments

  1. May 15, 2017 / 6:31 am

    I think we all know the benefits of exercise for children, but like you I am surprised at just how much they need! My kids are pretty good at exercising as my daughter does five dance classes a week, plus Parkrun. We walk to school, which isn’t far at all, but every little helps! My son plays a lot of football and rugby and, now the season is over, he’s doing a lot of athletics. My eldest doesn’t do as much as I’d like – he’s an all or nothing kind of person – a 30 mile walk or nothing! He’s just started training for the Three Peaks, so he’s going to have to exercise regularly. They don’t really do the strengthening exercises, unless you count my daughter’s ballet!
    Sarah MumofThree World recently posted…Reading with my daughterMy Profile

  2. May 15, 2017 / 12:49 pm

    It comes back to outside play – when they spend time running around outside, climbing, den building etc it all builds them up physically and mentally. Recent Michael Moore documentary on Finnish schools showed kids doing just 20 hours of school a week (including lunch hour) and no homework because the government recognised how essential time for play and sport is. They rank number 1 in the world for schools.
    Maz Hopwood recently posted…Smallhythe Place in picturesMy Profile

  3. May 15, 2017 / 9:02 pm

    My daughter does ballet too, and she’s just about to start cricket. My son does football, tae kwondo, and park run. An hour three times a week, though – that’s a lot. I wonder if running around in the school yard counts? Great post, really informative. x

  4. May 15, 2017 / 10:33 pm

    My girls would spend their whole time outside if they could. Just in the garden, on their scooters or a trip to the park. Every weekend we love a family walk. Both girls do swimming which does so much more than you think. X

  5. May 16, 2017 / 7:23 pm

    We are really outdoorsy so I think our kids are completely active without even realising it. They are such good little walkers and my son now shows an interest in sports too. It’s so important for them x

  6. May 16, 2017 / 10:34 pm

    I never realised quite how much exercise children need. We don’t do a lot of structured exercise – other than the girls doing their ballet class each week, but we do try and get out and about as much as possible and I encourage the girls to be active. It’s more difficult with Jessica as she tires quite quickly though. Love your girls talking about exercise while running around on the trampoline 🙂

  7. May 17, 2017 / 11:21 am

    My kids have been having swimming lessons from when they were toddlers – but since I got them doing parkrun at the weekend I have seen a real difference in them too. We have also always had a trampoline in the garden which gets used all year round. Great post.
    pinkoddy recently posted…The Week Running up to the Half MarathonMy Profile

    • monsterid May 18, 2017 / 6:29 am

      Hooray for park run! We are going to do it this weekend too.
      Nat.x

  8. May 20, 2017 / 9:00 am

    My two love cycling and my eldest swims once a week two. However we spend a large part of every day outside and moving. Even at home both boys are normally racing around the garden and house, up and downstairs and jumping off things. I hope this continues as they get older.
    I have thoracic scholiosis, which wasn’t found until my 20’s, mainly as it wasn’t obvious. The main reason that the Drs think it isn’t so pronounced is that when I was growing in my teenage years I swam a lot and was very active, which probably kept my curve from getting as bad as it could have been. Excercise is definitely important!

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