Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Do your children get enough daily exercise?

I received a letter from school yesterday explaining that children will be measured and weighed at school in the next month or so and if we have any objections, to let them know. There was a leaflet enclosed on healthy eating and exercise and I was reminded that my son, as a soon-to-be 5 year old, should be getting 60 minutes of exercise a day. It made me stop and think about whether he indeed gets that amount of exercise in a typical day....

According to NHS guidelines, the sixty minutes should comprise of both moderate-intensity activities and vigorous-intensity activities, so things that make your child break a sweat and also that raise their heart rate. (For children under-5, the guidelines are outlined here). There's a useful page listing examples of activities that fall into the two groups. Having a read through, I confess my son probably does not do enough vigorous-intensity activities, definitely not in the winter when our time outside is restricted by bad weather.

The sixty minutes are completely manageable. The moderate-intensity exercise is taken care of with our walks or scooter rides to and from school and my son's time playing outside in the playground, doing PE etc. The vigorous-intensity exercise takes a bit more thought and planning however. If your child does a sport or dance class, that would take care of it. However, on the days they don't, it means trying to incorporate something out and about or at home.

I realise, as a parent, I am much more focused on the healthy eating side to bringing up children with a healthy lifestyle. We walk everywhere (we don't own a car), we like to spend time playing outside in the garden or at parks / in the woods but I admit I probably don't make enough effort to encourage daily vigorous-intensity activities. Something for me to work on!

Do you think your child gets the recommended amount and types of exercise each day? Do you rely on after-school sports and such like for vigorous-intensity exercise?
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  1. Some days my twins get masses of exercise but if it's raining then it's quiet art time inside. I think it's difficult to make sure that every single day they get exercise but I'm happy if I know they've had plenty of activity throughout the week or weekend to balance it out.

    1. That sounds sensible and I am probably similar in trying to get a good balance overall in any given week, with more physical activity some days than others.
      Thanks very much for reading and leaving a comment :-)

  2. Damien never keeps still! He never puts any weight on either...mind you, his diet is very limited.
    They are very keen on the children getting lots of exercise at school, even in bad weather. It's a case of wellies and raincoats on and out they go!
    I think you're doing a fab job as a parent from what I've read in your post! :)
    The road outside our house is gridlocked Monday to Friday with people driving their children to school...I dare bet that most of them don't need to... convenient it might well be but the children (and parents) could be benefiting from the walk (not to mention the environment). I think it's more important than ever to make sure children get lots of exercise. Some of them spend far too long social networking or gaming. When I was a child, we played come rain or shine. There certainly weren't the problems with obesity that there are today.
    As you say, it's up to us as parents to see that our children get plenty of exercise and eat as healthy a diet as is possible.

    1. Some great points in your comment! My son's school also insist on wellies and raincoats so they can be outside in all weathers, which I think is a good thing to encourage. As for the parents who drive, I know several mothers who live as close to the school as we do, or closer even, who drive there and back each day. As well as exercise, the walk is often sociable too, we often run into friends or neighbours and walk the rest of the way with them, which is nice.
      I agree with you about the change in children's habits and the fact obesity was not such an issue in our own youth. As a parent, we need to set good examples and find fun ways to ensure our children do get regular exercise.
      Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

  3. I don't get an hour a day!! :)
    Unless house chores count. I'm like you, more focused on preparing healthy meals. these days my teenage son goes to the gym every day so I'm sure he gets his daily quota. When my children were little? The challenge was in winder when it gets so cold here and playing outside is not an option anymore.

    1. I'm sure household chores count ;-). Yes, winter is definitely the challenge over here too, when as you say, it is simply too cold for playing outside.


Thank you for reading. I'd love to have your comments and thoughts!