It’s estimated in the UK that on average 3-4-year-olds are spending three hours a day in front of a screen. This rises to four hours for ages 5-7, 4.5 hours by ages 8-11, and then 6.5 hours for teenagers, according to Ofcom.
But with the recommended daily dose of exercise for families being at least 150 minutes each week for adults, 60 minutes a day for children aged 5 to 18 and 180 minutes a day for under 5’s, the draw of the screen is resulting in families failing to meet the recommended exercise guidelines.
So how as a family do you ensure you’re staying active? Whether it’s a quick 10 minute trip to the park after school or a longer walk at the weekend there’s lots of ways to get moving. Here's our top five tips…
Ditch the car and try using your feet instead. In 2015 only 48% of children aged 5 to 10 years-old walked to school, as stated by UK charity Living Streets, by 2025 the Government objective is to increase this number to 55%.
As well as the physical benefits, walking to school can have a positive impact on mental health too. Evidence shows that children and young people who are more active have more confidence, higher self-esteem, less anxiety and stress, and better social skills.
Not only is there health benefits to walking there’s an environmental benefit too, as the school run alone generates two million tonnes of CO2 each year.
Staying active isn’t just restricted to the week, try setting aside one day at the weekend to do something active together as a family.
Not only is it a great way for everyone to stay active but gives your family the chance to spend some quality time together and create some memories too. Discover your nearest National Park and hire some bikes, take the dog for a walk, or see what new attractions have opened in your local area.
A recent study has linked increased levels of screen time with delayed development in children. It found that on average two year-olds were spending around 17 hours a week in front of screens, which increased to almost 25 hours a week at aged three.
Try reducing the amount of time you’re spending as a family in front of a screen. Make meal times a device-free zone or have a set time at the weekend where you get out of the house, even for an hour.
There are always sponsored runs or walks happening across the UK with various options to suit the whole family.
The Bournemouth Bay Run for example has a 1k children’s fun run or Cancer Research host Pretty Mudder Kids throughout the UK – pair raising money with doing something outdoors and help boost your health and wellbeing as a result.
Geocaching is a modern take on the traditional treasure hunt. A fun challenge for both adults and children of all ages, it encourages kids to get out and get some fresh air but also provides exercise, mental stimulation, enhances team building skills and helps them to learn about the area around them.
Using a GPS-enabled device the idea is to seek containers known as ‘geocaches’ that are hidden all over the UK. According to the National Trust, “most caches have a log book for you to leave a message in and the satisfaction of finding the box is a reward in itself. But often you will also find a strange array of trinkets that people have left to swap.”
Have a look through our Health and Wellbeing articles to see what else you could do as a family to help boost your mental wellbeing.