If you’ve been home schooling your children on and off since March – all while juggling lockdown, running a home, and managing a career – by now, you might be scratching your head for new and exciting ways to get your kids moving.
You know it’s important to keep them active, but you can barely squeeze in a ten-minute sweat session yourself most weeks, so find the prospect of keeping them off screens and actually active for an hour a day increasingly challenging.
NHS guidelines advise kids and teens under 18 should be doing an average of ‘at least 60 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a day’ to ensure they enhance bone health, solidify healthy habits, and develop the right movement skills, shares athlete and founder of TrYumph in Life kids clubs Becky Lyne.
Yet, sadly, kids are moving less as a result of spending more time at home. New Sport England stats show that more than a million fewer kids took part in sport last year. Only 44.9% of children (that’s 3.2 million) met the Chief Medical Officer’s guidelines of movement of 60 minutes or more a day. Almost a third didn’t even manage 30 minutes of daily movement.
So, where do you start with getting your little ones moving more? Sure, there’s PE with Joe, but if they’ve had enough of that by now, know there are loads more ways to keep your kids fit and active. We’ve chatted to a whole host of experts – athletes, personal trainers, and a This Girl Can campaign lead, to get their top tips on making movement from home easier.
Exercise for kids: 8 simple ways to keep your children active from home
Channel your inner Elsa
One of the best ways to get kids moving, according to This Girl Can campaign lead Kate Dale? Make the activity feel fun and relatable, rather than like a chore.
“With kids often wanting to be glued to the TV, coming up with a workout in the style of their favourite superhero or cartoon will make it easier to engage them and get them moving indoors,” she shares.
Try this: Get them to dress up as the characters and make them rename the moves. For example, if your little one is a Frozen fan, encourage them to do a children’s lunge by perfecting Elsa’s curtsy. Spider-Man fans can do star jumps by imagining the webs shooting out of their hands. As well as coming up with your own routines, there are freely available resources like Get Kids Moving on the Sport England hub, which includes workouts featuring the likes of Disney, Marvel and Harry Potter characters your kids will instantly recognise and want to jump around to.
Build an obstacle course
Get creative and make use of the space you have at home, even if it’s small. “Turning the room in the house you spend the most time in into a space for fun and movement will only encourage your kids to want to move,” Kate explains. “Start them off with a few of your own ideas, then encourage them to create other creative challenges that involve movement,” she recommends.
Try this: Stuck indoors on a rainy day? Build an obstacle course around the house, creating circuits using furniture to do your favourite moves such as dancing, squats or bear crawls. You could even add a DIY laser maze with masking tape, or try football or golf with a bunch of socks.
Stage your own silent disco
Parents are juggling a lot more than usual at the moment. One of Kate’s top tips? Finding fun and active ways to keep your kids occupied while you’re doing things like cooking dinner, or unpacking the shopping.
Try this: If you’re in the kitchen preparing a meal and need to keep the kids occupied, why not create a silent disco and encourage them to dance around the kitchen table? “This is a great one to do if you’re finding it tough to find the time to keep kids active while home schooling, as you can integrate a bit of movement into your morning or evening routine,” Kate shares.
Stream a YouTube dance class
Sure, you’ve likely heard this one before, but hear us out. “Dancing is fab for children, plus the entire family can do it together and have so much fun,” explains athlete and mother of two Kerllen Rego.
Try this: YouTube has specific videos from professional dancers designed for children and suitable for all ages, to suit a variety of needs and requirements. Whether you’re into Zumba, ballroom dancing or ballet, there’s something for everyone.
Not into dancing? Kerllen recommends searching for ‘children workouts’ on YouTube.
“There’s a wide range of workouts tailored for kids, from yoga, to stretching, to hula hooping classes, to skipping tutorials,” she shares. The beauty of this kind of movement is you can do them whenever works for you – you’re not tied down to a timetable.
Start of end your day with a walk
Again, another obvious one, but if you haven’t quite made some daily steps a part of your home schooling routine yet, Kerllen’s got one word for you: routine. “If you make a daily walk a part of your routine, it’ll become non-negotiable. You could include a walk in your school day before you start lessons, or at lunch to shake off the morning’s work,” she shares.
Try this: Why not try and make a walk a part of your daily schedule by writing it on a bit of paper and sticking on the fridge, or getting the kids to note it on the family whiteboard?
Schedule a Zoom workout playdate
Children may not be able to see each other physically right now, but staying in touch with their friends and classmates virtually is still important for their mental wellbeing, explains personal trainer and director of MummyFIT UK Jenny Drage.
Try this: Why not schedule in weekly ‘PE classes’ or workouts of choice with friends? Whether it’s a morning PE with Joe, a YouTube workout of choice or a live-streamed celebrity workout that they do at the same time, the sense of connection will no doubt make your little one smile.
Make their step count a fun challenge
Walking is one of the easiest ways to up your cardiovascular fitness for both adults and children. So the easiest way to get your child moving? Get them tuned in to their step count.
Try this: If your child has a Fitbit, you could invent a fun competition around them hitting five thousand steps a day, shares Jenny.
Not so keen on the idea of them tracking their steps? You could encourage them to do a few laps of the garden (or house) every day, instead. Why not challenge them to ‘conquer’ their favourite geographical locations. For example, the 1,665 steps of the Eiffel Tower or 1,576 steps of the Empire State building would take around 45 minutes to walk.
How many locations can they conquer?
Invest in some home workout kit
As an injured athlete, there were times when Becky really had to think outside the box to make sure she was getting her training in. “Work to the mantra ‘do what you can, with what you’ve got, where you are’,” she recommends.
Try this: Her advice? Invest in some home workout kit that’ll get your kids excited to move. Think anything from hula hoops, to sandbags, to skipping ropes, to a mini trampoline, to resistance bands. “A static, free-standing stepper can be a great way to get some movement in a limited space. Maybe you could make screen-time a condition of a certain number of steps?,” she recommends.
Resistance bands are also great if you’re short on space (and cash) – you can use them anywhere and they cost around £10. “For slightly older kids, resistance band workouts with lots of age-appropriate moves can nicely replace the gym,” Becky continues. Worth the money? In her opinion, yes. “They’ll really help to build your kids strength and posture”, she explains.
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