Why we need to play catch (and skip) with our kids
Now that the weather’s warmer, my kids are playing in the garden more frequently. The trampoline is seeing more action, and toys are strewn across the lawn. Meanwhile my eldest daughter, who loves gymnastics and goes to a class after school, spends every spare moment doing handstands, cartwheels, bridges and other ultra-bendy moves, most of which are beyond me.
I love seeing the kids being active and parents have an extremely important job in keeping our kids moving, according to Start Young Stay Active.
But the report also says that mums and dads need to take a greater lead in making sure our kids get enough exercise – a generation of children is growing up less fit and healthy than their parents.
I found the report interesting – and scary – reading.
The problem with kids and exercise
Poor fitness in children
This is far more common than obesity – of the 8550 children who participated in the East of England Healthy Hearts study, 11% were obese, but 20% had low fitness levels. Apparently the media’s ‘obesity obsession’ has overshadowed the problem with lack of fitness.
Poor physical skills
Lots of kids now start school without having developed crucial physical skills, including throwing, catching, jumping, running, agility, balance and coordination.
Parents need to monitor their child’s physical development just as they do their kids’ homework, according to the report.
Here’s some more interesting info that I pulled from the report, by UK Active, a not-for-profit health body:
- It now takes a child on average 90 seconds longer to run a mile than it did 30 years ago.
- Children aren’t born ‘naturally active’ or ‘naturally inactive’. Instead their parents are role models in terms of exercise habits, according to a study in the US journal Pediatrics. So children from families with less active parents are likely to follow a similar path.
- Exercising with family, as opposed to in school or a club, has advantages for some children. With no social pressure or fear of stigma, children can try any activity they want.
- Give them sports toys
I recently interviewed child fitness expert Nicky Kay of FitKid, who told me how surprised she always was by the number of children unable to use a skipping rope, or catch a ball. To help kids develop physical skills, she recommends investing in four essential toys for kids to play with in your garden: a ball, a pair of cheap tennis racquets, a space hopper (or ‘hoppity hop’ in the US) and a skipping rope. Have fun!