Schools out – let’s move
By Caroline Costello Croi Physical Activity Specialist
There is a growing concern about children’s inactivity levels worldwide and unfortunately Ireland didn’t fare too well in a recent report card. A new international scale of children’s physical activity levels has graded Ireland with a D minus – according to data from all over the island of Ireland only 12% to 43% of our children do enough physical activity. Being active has huge benefits for children’s physical and mental health as well as helping to maintain a healthy body composition.
Seeing that school holidays are upon us, keeping the children active is a definite winner. Every step counts, so try to get the kids to do at least 1 hour of moderate to vigorous activity every day. Include muscle and bone strengthening exercises at least three times a week, such as climbing the stairs, pushups, sit-ups, or simply any weight bearing exercise.
Remember physical activity doesn’t have to be hard or scary, even active free play can be beneficial, this includes unstructured outdoor activity in the children’s own time or simply spontaneous activities – riding bikes with their friends, hop scotch, skipping or running around the park.
Like us, kids also enjoy variety. Find activities your child likes and it won’t be exercise, it will be fun. Here are a few simple tips:
· Motivate kids to want to be active
· Try different activities so your child will pick up new skills, and stay interested and challenged
· Be active yourself
· Spend active time with your child
· Find exercise you can do as a family
· Limit screen time (TV/Computer)
Tips for parents
It's hard enough to exercise the rest of the year, but add holidays to the mix and many of us find exercise becomes less of a priority as our to-do lists grow longer. The last thing you want is more stress and, for many of us, trying to keep to our usual workout program does just that. At the same time, staying active in some way will give you energy, reduce stress and tension and, of course, help mitigate some of the extra calories you may be eating.
If you're traveling, planning ahead can make all the difference. Take some time to figure out what activity options are available at your destination. Prepare yourself for any eventuality and engage in activities to help you and your family stay active this summer.
The most important thing is to be realistic. You aren't always in charge of your schedule during the holidays, so you can only do your best.