Are your children getting their 180 minutes* a day?
*Chief Medical Officer recommended amount of daily physical activity for the Early Years.
The start of the year is often seen as the perfect time for people to get healthy. Following the festive excesses, many a New Year resolution focuses on eating better and exercising more, as we strive to lose weight and generally feel fitter and more energised.
But what about our children? Whilst many new parents obsess about the food that passes their little ones lips (or ends up on their heads!), much less focus has traditionally been placed on the importance of physical activity in even very young children. We all know the phrase ‘5 a day’ in reference to the amount of fruit and vegetables we should be serving our children daily, but how many of us have heard of the slightly less catchy ‘180 minutes a day’? This is the amount of physical activity all under 5’s should be getting every single day, and it really can make a difference to their lives.
The importance of physical activity in the Early Years
There is evidence that physical activity during the early years may be beneficially associated with:
· Heart disease risk factors
· Weight status
· Muscle and bone health
· Motor skill development
· Psychological, social and emotional health.
In short, physical activity makes your child stronger, fitter, healthier and happier! But equally as important, children who start enjoying regular physical activity from an early age have lots and lots of fun and are therefore more likely to continue to incorporate exercise into their lives as they grow up.
When should we start thinking about physical activity with our children?
A healthy focus on physical activity should ideally begin right from birth. Babies should be encouraged to explore their environment as much as possible when they are awake, and time spent in car seats and other restrictions should be minimised. Some examples of activities for babies include:
· Rolling – both ways
· Moving baby (supported) through space
· More awake ‘tummy time’
· Slowly spinning baby both ways (1 revolution per 8 seconds)
· Baby massage and tactile stimulation
· Dance and exercise to music
As children get older, they should be encouraged to be as active as possible. Try to walk to nursery or pre-school regularly, and use the environment to stimulate activities i.e. stomping and kicking fallen leaves in the autumn. This is also an ideal time to add a structured physical activity class such as minimovez into your child’s weekly routine – speak to other mums and try to get a recommendation where possible.
How much physical activity is enough?
As mentioned earlier, many parents remain unaware of guidelines released in July 2011. These guidelines state:
Children of pre-school age who are capable of walking unaided should be physically active daily for at least 180 minutes (3 hours), spread throughout the day.
It is acknowledged that most under 5’s are currently failing to reach this target. A recent review of the literature indicates that physical activity levels in childcare appear generally to be very low; the majority of studies suggest that children accumulate less than 60 minutes of moderate or vigorous physical activity over an 8-hour day.
With our increasingly busy lifestyles, reliance on cars, safety culture, and focus on new technology, it is easier than ever to allow our children to become sedentary, almost without realizing. However, with a little thought and imagination we can ensure that our children have the healthy future that they deserve.
You can now enjoy Minimovez Classes for pre-school children at Kate Campbell Fitness in a new unique concept….. As your kids enjoy the Minimovez fun upstairs in the studio, you can get full use of the gym - your time to work on your fitness goals. Unsure what to do? Don’t worry you are spoilt for choice choose any Gym Focus programme and get a great workout. For more information on this, and to find out about Minimovez Classes at Kate Campbell Fitness see katecampbellfitness.com/classes
We hope to see you and your little ones at the studio soon.
Steph & Alex, MiniMovez Preschool Fitness