28% of parents have confessed their children spend around 2-3 hours of their day in front of a screen1, with so many children (58% of children own their own tablet2) having access to some sort of handheld device it is easy to see why parents may struggle to reduce their child’s screen times and get their kids active. Research has suggested that excessive time spent in front of a screen can lead to health and social issues for children including struggling at school, attention problems, sleep disorders and obesity3.
With only 1 in 20 of us doing the right amount of exercise we need to each week4 and many spending the majority of our day sitting down it is easy to see why it is even more important that we stay active.
Here is the recommended daily dose of exercise for families4:
- Adults need to be active for at least 150 minutes each week
- Children aged 5 – 16 need to be active for at least 60 minutes each day
- Children under 5 need around 3 hours of activity per day
Now that the summer holidays are over here are our six tips for staying active as a family…
1. Switch up the school run
Ditch the car and try using your feet instead. Professor of Exercise and Health Sciences at Bristol University, Ken Fox recommends either walking or cycling to and from school as an alternative to using the car6. Regular cycling can help you and your family to not only lose weight but can reduce stress and improve your overall fitness levels7.
2. Plan family-friendly outdoor activities
Staying active isn’t just restricted to the week, try setting aside one day at the weekend to do something active together as a family8. 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. Here are a few family-friendly outdoor activities you can take part in at your nearest National Park www.nationalparks.gov.uk/visiting/outdooractivities/top-15-family-activities
3. Limit screen times
Research has identified that excessive screen times combined with a sedentary lifestyle often lead to lower levels of wellbeing and increased anxiety in children which is why it is important for families to use the back to school period to adopt healthier behaviours9. Try reducing the amount of time you’re spending as a family in front of a screen and use this time to be more active i.e. taking the dog for a walk or simply a stroll in the park.
4. Fun run or charity walk
There are loads of sponsored runs or walks to take part in across the UK with various options to suit the whole family. For example the Bournemouth Marathon has an option for children to take part in a junior 2k or 1.5k. From training to the event itself, a sponsored run or walk is great way to get the whole family together, you could even get the grandparents involved by supporting you from the side-line. Find a local family fun run here https://www.timeoutdoors.com/events/fun-runs
5. Give geocaching a go
Geocaching is a modern take on the traditional treasure hunt. A fun challenge for both adults and children of all ages, geocaching is a great way to not only encourage your 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 geology and ecology10. Geocachers use a GPS device or a GPS-enabled mobile device to hide and seek containers known as ‘geocaches’. Visit www.geocaching.com/play to find out how your family can get involved in geocaching.
Do your family take part in an activity that is fun and active? Leave us your recommendations in the comments below…