How prioritise family fitness
There are now so many stories around about childhood obesity and lack of fitness, that it seems almost impossible to avoid the possibility. You might feel guilty about giving your child a biscuit instead of a carrot for example, or the nagging feeling that, while they are enjoying watching their favourite cartoon really it would be better if they were out running.
In reality though, the occasional biscuit or chocolate bar isn’t going to make your child obese, just as a bit of time watching television is actually important for them to relax and wind down.
So, what is the answer?
Not many children will take kindly to being woken up early for a jog before school, and as with many things, the more you try to get them to get some exercise, the more they dig their heels in. Therefore the solution would seem to be not to make a big deal of it… make exercise a normal part of everyday life, not something that needs to remarked on or obsessively monitored. Make it a habit and soon no-one will even notice that they’ve just walked two miles!
Look at sports clubs
If you want your children to take part in organised sport, the first thing to do is find something they enjoy. Some children will love jumping into a swimming pool, others will have to be dragged to their weekly lesson; some will love running around, others will prefer to curl up with a book. We’re all different, and that’s just as true of children as it is of grown-ups. It’s quite usual for young children to try out lots of things, so don’t despair if your plans of them joining the local football team come to nothing – maybe they’re a born cricketer instead! Make sure you like the ethos of any club you look at, as there’s nothing like being shouted at to discourage a child from taking part in sport. Once you’ve found the thing they like and are enthusiastic about, you’re almost there.
Lead by example
Making exercise a normal family thing is also a great idea. Walking to school is often touted as something that will make a big difference, so try to swap the car for your feet on short journeys, and, for longer journeys, take the bikes out – if it’s safe to do so. There are plenty of family friendly cycling routes around, bridleways and disused railway tracks are popular options as they are flat – so there’s no whining about going up hills! Family swimming is fun once you’ve been brave enough to jump in, and it doesn’t mean getting your children to swim lengths while you stand there with a stopwatch. Go to a fun floats or inflatables session, you will still all be putting the effort in – and enjoy it!