Exercise for children - get them walking and make it fun - and maybe you'll get fit too!
Exercise for children
Children today are not as active as we were. We were allowed much more freedom and ran around for much of the day. Consequently children stayed slim.
You must get your children away from the computer and television screens to do something different if you want to keep them fit. The fun and easy way is to walk with them.
Parents can help their children to exercise by getting out into the fresh air with them. Walk with your family wherever and whenever you can. Even young children can join in the walk. Take the buggy if you are on pavements or track – you may just need it if you are to encourage the older children to walk a fair distance, very young children can walk good distances as long as they are enjoying themselves but will get tired eventually.
Do your children start to trail behind when the going gets tough? This usually happens in the first ten minutes of a walk!
“I’m tired” they moan.
“Are we nearly there”
“I’m fed up”!
”My legs are aching” etc.
The answer is that you need to keep them occupied, both physically and mentally.
Rain and 'aeroplanes'.
How to keep them interested
Walking must be fun and then the children will look forward to outings. We have found that playing games as we walk along encourages the children to walk greater distances.
Follow my leader
Choose a leader, usually mum or dad to begin with (or Grandma and Grandpa) and then follow exactly their actions. This is good if the children have slowed down – they love this game.
Giant steps, Fairy steps, Hopping, Skipping, Penguin steps, Tiptoes, Walking backwards,Walking sideways, Jumping, Aeroplanes, Trains, Motorbikes, Ballerinas, Elephants, Hands on heads, Tigers, Giraffes and Butterflies.
I’m sure you’ll think of many more.
Change leaders so that they all have a go.
Do actions as you walk along and make sounds of the train or an animal.
You will feel a fool as other people pass you by - as you are flying along arms outstretched and making aeroplane noises! But don’t let it bother you – it’s all in a good cause!
Most children know the story of The Gruffalo. If yours don’t then it’s well worth going out and buying it.
You will need a walk which is through or near to a wood.
If you don’t have a wood then pretend.
The Gruffalo lives in the wood.
Choose a child to be the Gruffalo and then let the children decide which other creature in the story they want to be fox, owl, snake or mouse. Children can make up other creatures such as hedgehogs, bats, robins etc.
If the children know the story well they can say the words as they walk along.
"A mouse took a stroll through the deep dark wood.
A fox saw the mouse and the mouse looked good".
The mouse eventually meets the Gruffalo
"Well, Gruffalo,"said the mouse. "You see?
Everyone is afraid of me!
.But now my tummy's beginning to rumble
My favourite food is - gruffalo crumble!"
This is where the Gruffalo decides to run away. The other creatures can follow him - remember every few steps running gets everyone nearer to the finish. And don't forget that it's more fun for all if the adults join in!
We're all going on a bear hunt.
Another game is
We’re all going on a bear hunt
Children love doing the actions and sounds for this and before they know it they are half way round the walk and no one is moaning that they are tired!
Why not try another popular pretend game of
Let’s all be soldiers
And then march briskly,
"Left right, left right, left right."
The nursery rhyme "The Grand Old Duke Of York" can also be sung as the children march along.
You will probably have other games which you could play. Anything which diverts the child from negative thoughts is good - even I Spy occupies them and the child forgets that he was grumbling a few minutes before.
Don’t forget to have food and drink available because walking and any exercise makes everyone hungry. Children love a picnic and a rest stop will allow them to recharge their batteries.
A reward of ice cream.
We have a favourite reservoir which we walk round we always try remember to take food for the ducks and a plastic bag to collect autumn fruits such as blackberries, whimberries, wild strawberries, elderberries, damsons and sloe berries. Our reservoir has a little cafe near the car park which also sells ice cream. Looking forward to an ice cream at the end of the walk helps the children to finish it. With luck they'll want to come again and have fun.
We do this walk at all times of the year and spend a lot of time looking at nature – but that’s another story!
Don't forget to make sure that your children are have comfortable, sturdy footwear. Once you are sure that the walking bug has got them you could invest in proper walking boots/trainers.
Why don’t you give walking a try – you'll feel fitter, your children will sleep well and you might lose a few pounds in weight too!