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A young boy uses floatation aids to learn to swim independently

How much exercise does your child need to stay healthy?

As adults, we all know the importance of regular exercise. As well as helping us keep our waistlines in check, a healthy lifestyle can help us feel happier, increase our energy levels, reduce our risk of chronic health conditions, and help with brain health and memory.

Physical activity, though, is equally important for our kids. Public Health England research states that, by the time they reach primary school, 1 in 5 children are overweight or obese. Furthermore, only 20-23% of children regularly get the recommended level of daily activity. Children who get enough physical activity and mentally and physically happier, and getting into the habit of doing short bursts of activity early can deliver lifelong benefits.

How much physical activity do children need?

The answer, of course, depends on their age. Babies, for example, should be encouraged to be active throughout the day – and this rule applies every day. Even before they can crawl, us grown-ups should be encouraging them to reach out and grasp at objects, to pull and push, and move their head and limbs. Tummy time is also important, and gives young babies a perfect opportunity to start developing their neck muscles. Start with just a few minutes throughout the day, gradually building to half an hour. Parent and baby swimming sessions, baby yoga, baby massage, and sensory classes are all great ways to encourage activity in babies, and also offer phenomenal opportunities to build social and emotional bonds.

Once they start walking – or cruising into toddler-hood – children should be active for 180 minutes every day. This activity can take various forms – swimming, dancing, climbing, scooting, cycling, or even enjoying a bit of messy play. So, it can – and should – include a good mix of light and more energetic tasks, and activities that take place indoors and out. At this age, activities that are fun and engage their imaginations are the best for getting children moving.

Once they start school, it is recommended that children get 60 minutes of physical activity every day. Again, a mix of light and more energetic activity is recommended, and this should be complemented by a balanced diet.

Some tips

  • Break up inactivity, and ensure that your child doesn’t spend long periods of time watching TV, or being strapped into a buggy or car seat
  • Enjoy time together as a family while enjoying some light physical activity – go for a walk, engage in some messy play, enjoy a game of musical statues
  • Find a more energetic activity that your child enjoys – jump on a trampoline, run around, play chase, go for a swim, have a bit of a dance…
  • Plan some structured activities to keep your child moving, but also leave time for some unstructured play sessions

The good news

Great news, actually! PaddlePod offers a range of classes that can help you ensure that your child gets the physical activity they need to stay healthy. From swimming to dancing, messy play to baby massage – these classes not only help your little ones to maintain a healthy weight, they can help develop muscles and bones, encourage movement and co-ordination, foster brain development and learning, improve sleep patterns, and build relationships and social skills. Don’t forget that we also offer exciting play areas for young children to enjoy – so plenty of opportunities for unstructured play time, too!

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