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Healthy Snacks for Kids

Snacking can be really bad for children, but most children will crave tasty treats throughout the day.

Most children do need some additional food between mealtimes, to help to sustain their growing bodies and to give them vital nutrients. Snacks are especially important for really active children, such as those who do a lot of [...] Read more →

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Activities to Strengthen Muscles and Bones

It is important for children to engage in physical activity to encourage their physical development. All physical activities help children to develop their motor skills, but some activities also help children to develop mental skills as well.

Different physical activities also help children to develop certain areas of their bodies. Your child’s paediatrician may actually [...] Read more →

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Healthy Drinks for Kids

Keeping your children hydrated is very important, especially if they are very active.

Dehydration can be serious, especially for growing bodies, so it is important that you keep an eye on how much fluid your children consume during the day. As well as making sure that they are drinking regularly enough, you must also make [...] Read more →

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Lots of information and recommended guidelines from the NHS on childrens health. Click the image to visit.


NHS Choices


Detailed information and resources from the UK government website. Click the image to visit.


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Activities to Strengthen Muscles and Bones

It is important for children to engage in physical activity to encourage their physical development. All physical activities help children to develop their motor skills, but some activities also help children to develop mental skills as well.

Different physical activities also help children to develop certain areas of their bodies. Your child’s paediatrician may actually suggest certain types of exercise if they want to encourage improved development in areas where the existing development has started to slow.

Guidelines for Physical Activities in Children

The recommended amount of physical activity for children differs depending on how old they are. Babies are encouraged to move through play when they are not asleep. These movements encourage muscles and joints to develop. Infants should also be given “tummy time” where they are allowed to reach and move about whilst on their stomach. This helps to prevent their range of movements from becoming restricted.

Once they are able to walk more confidently, toddlers require at least 180 minutes of physical activity per day, and more vigorous activities are encouraged, especially if they have been forced to remain sedentary at any point during the day. Changes in movement from moderate to vigorous exercises are best for physical development.

Children who are over the age of 5 only require 60 minutes of physical activity per day, which should range from moderate to vigorous. There should be a fairly even balance between moderate and vigorous activities to continue to develop muscle growth and coordination. It is important that children spend at least 90 minutes per week (three 30 minute sessions) doing exercises that specifically build strong muscles and strong bones.

Building Muscle Strength

Building muscle strength is important, because muscles control movement and affect coordination.

Muscle strength is necessary for general daily activities and helps to reduce weakness and fatigue. Muscle strengthening activities are activities which generally require children to work against a stronger form of resistance. Doing a mixture of muscle strengthening activities will help them to build a range of different muscle groups.

Many activities that are specifically enjoyed by children include a muscle building aspect, and therefore children may not need to set out to specifically perform muscle strengthening activities. These activities include pastimes like; swinging on the monkey bars in the park, climbing trees, completing assault courses, and engaging in games like tug of war. Children’s football, rugby and tennis also help children to build muscle.

Older children may need to set out to specifically do muscle-strengthening activities by carefully choosing sports that build different muscle groups. Options that could appeal to older children may include; sit-ups, press-ups, resistance training (weights, exercise bands), rock climbing, basketball, and gymnastics.

Strengthening Bones

Bone-strengthening activities are designed to promote bone growth and strength. This is important for children whilst they are still growing, because it encourages healthy bone growth. It also reduces the risks associated with weak bones, including breaks and sprains.

kids martial arts

Kids martial arts

Bone-strengthening activities also require children to work against resistance or work to lift their own body weight. Most playground equipment and non-static toys (tricycles etc) encourage bone strengthening through increased movement. Climbing frames are particularly useful. Skipping with a rope is an excellent choice, because it involves bone strengthening activities in both the arms (turning the rope) and the legs (jumping over the rope). Other playground games like hopscotch are also encouraged, because they build coordination as well as bone strength.

Gymnastics, dance and martial arts are all good choices for people who are looking for bone strengthening activities. This is because they encourage controlled movements against resistance and use the whole body.

Older children may find that they would prefer to be involved in organised team sports. There are plenty of choices for those who are looking for sports that build bone strength, including; rugby, netball, hockey and football.

Those participating in contact sports should listen carefully to the instruction of their coaches so that they know how to minimise the risk of injury. If your child has suffered an injury because of negligence all reputable sports clubs should be covered by their insurance company if a personal injury claim is started against them. Alternatively, they can try non-contact variants of these sports, such as Tag Rugby.

For those who prefer to exercise alone, weight training is a possibility. Weight training is normally only recommended for young adults who are over the age of 15.

Before your child engages in any weight training, they must complete an induction at the gym, so that they will understand how to use the weights safely. Incorrect usage of weight equipment can be dangerous and may put unnatural strain onto the body. This can do more harm than good.

Most gyms will advise that weights over a certain mass should not be used without a spotter. A spotter is a person who is on-hand to help the lifter if they were to get into any trouble with the weights that they are using. Some gyms also put weight restrictions onto young adults.

Keeping your Child Active during the School Holidays

active children

Active children

If your children do a lot of sports and after-school clubs, you may find that they are bursting with energy during the school holidays. Keeping their energy level up is a great idea to promote continued health and fitness, although this is often easier said than done! It can make things very difficult for working parents, who need to find plenty of options to keep the children entertained.

However, there are plenty of options for parents who are willing to think outside of the box.

Summer Schools

During the summer holidays there are plenty of camps and summer schools that you can send your children to whilst you are at work. Some of these camps are run by corporations, whilst others may be run by the local council or community groups.

There are lots of different formats for these gatherings. Some camps are day camps only, and the participants go home every night, whereas other camps are residential. Some summer schools are for single sports (e.g. football), whereas others are multi-disciplinary.

Summer camps give your children the opportunity to socialise with other children during the holiday period, as well as allowing them to remain active.

Gardening

Give your children a patch of garden to tend to. Help them to choose what they want to grow and explain the importance of taking care of the plants properly. Show them how to clear the patch and remove weeds from the garden.

Children are often the most enthusiastic about gardening when they are growing something that can be eaten. It can be fun for them to watch something grow, blossom and then turn into a fruit or vegetable which will then be eaten. Alternatively, children love things that are bigger or better than anything else in the garden, e.g. sunflowers.

It is possible to get loads of gardening tools that are designed especially for children, and they are sure to work up a sweat in the garden.

Hiking

Hiking and orienteering are really fun pastimes for children, because they help to keep children moving whilst also helping them to build their map-reading skills.

Before you set off on a walk or around an orienteering course, you can help your children to familiarise themselves with all of the symbols on the map. Show them how to identify where they are using the things that they can see around them, such as hills, streams and walls.

Before you go on your hike, agree on the route that you are going to take and then allow the children to be the chief navigators. You will only need to step in if you get lost. Many children love to map read, because it reminds them of a treasure hunt. If you decide to go on a special orienteering course, you will also have the added fun of finding all of the checkpoints that are in the route.

Many orienteering courses offer participants a special electronic “dibber” which must be touched to the checkpoints to record each visit. Children will love to wear the dibber and check into each marker.

Beach Activities

The beach is a great place for staying active because there are so many different things to do. Building sandcastles will help your children to keep their energy levels up, whilst also giving them the chance to flex their creative muscles as well.

If your children are more interested in taming the awesome power of nature, then they may want to try to dam a river or stream that flows out onto the beach. Many beaches in the UK have small streams or rivers that flow out onto them, and most children love to use sand and other resources to try to block them off. This is an impossible task, but it is one that will keep children entertained and active for hours on end.

Safety should always be the top priority with children when around water.

Dance Mat Games

If your children have to be engrossed in video games during the summer, make sure that they are physical ones.

Dance mats games are connected up to a console and participants are given set dance moves to follow. They are able to score points by doing the right steps at the right time. These dance routines can be very active, but they may keep your children busy for hours if they want to practice their steps. These mats are a great way to keep your children physically active if the weather outside is not very good. The only drawback is that you might have to listen to the same song on repeat for the whole day!