By now, we are all aware of the positive impact regular exercise has, not only on our physical health and mood but in terms of keeping our minds sharp. Science has shown that even 30 minutes of exercise that raises the heart rate can improve concentration levels and speed of learning. But in a technology-centred world, motivating young kids to drag themselves away from the TV or computer screen and run around outside is often easier said than done.
As a parent, understanding the potential benefits of exercise on your child’s learning is important and although encouraging them to stay physically won’t always be easy, it’ll certainly be worth the effort. Here are a few ways to get the job done:
Telling a child to ‘go for a run’ while you chill on the couch with a cup of coffee isn’t quite going to cut it. Young children watch adults around them and will mimic your habits, both the good and the bad. It is important for kids to see their parents not only being physically active but having fun in the process.
Whether it’s regular strolls in the park, swimming or training for a marathon, seeing their role models being active will encourage kids to see sport in a positive light and increase their desire to get involved.
Using sport as a reason to get together with friends or other family members is a really effective way of incorporating exercise into your kid’s routine. Whether it’s just a casual bike ride, a weekly martial arts class or having them join a more competitive football league, doing exercise with others will help create a sense of accountability and keep them engaged. Eventually, it won’t just be about doing a sport they enjoy but about doing it with their mates and having fun.
Kids love a bit of competition, so make a game of it. Challenge your kid to a race around the block or have them compete to see who can do the most jumping jacks without stopping. Reward them with a prize for their efforts for extra impact. Using online tracking tools or fitness technology like a pedometer also encourages this sense of competition, allows them to monitor their progress and feel a sense of accomplishment.
We’ve all got places to go but rather than driving your child to their nursery in London or taking the bus to a playdate why not incorporate exercise as a form of transportation? Taking a walk each day or riding their bike to the park will not only get them moving, but the slightly longer journey will also give parents a chance to catch up with their children. You’ll probably find that this way they are too busy thinking about their destination that they don’t even notice they are exercising, and it becomes a great bonding experience too.
Kids love presents so, rather than buying them the latest computer game or toy for their birthday, give gifts that promote physical activity and perhaps push them towards a new hobby. Think rollerblades, ice skates and footballs. If they have their heart set on modern technology capitalise on games that encourage movement such as the Nintendo Wii.
As cliche, as it may sound a healthy body really, does a healthy mind. Exercise and sport aren’t just good for your child’s health but are likely to reap rewards when it comes to their academic performance too.
In a world where convenience is king, everyone is becoming increasingly sedentary which isn’t good for mental or physical health. It’s our duty as parents to play an active role in encouraging children to get moving. But it doesn’t all have to be serious, exercise and sport should be fun so it’s also up to us to foster a love for these activities in our kid’s minds so eventually, they’ll want to stay active of their own accord.
See How We Incorporate Physical Activity Into The Curriculum: