We should all now be aware of the current obesity epidemic and the declining levels of fitness amongst children. The issues have been well publicised and the evidence is there for all to see by just taking a walk down the high street. This situation presents a real threat to the health of young people not to mention the fact that a life indoors is less fulfilling than an active one exploring the big wide world.
It is all too easy for busy parents to take the path of least resistance and allow their children to spend much of their time watching TV and playing video games. There is no effort required and the parents are able to get on with what they need to do without worrying about where their kids are. Sadly too much time lounging around and looking at a computer screen is detrimental to health. Kids must get out and get active and in order to do this their parents must encourage them to play in the garden if they have one or take them somewhere to engage in physical activity.
In an ideal world everyone would be able to afford to provide their kids with a lovely garden full of play equipment like slides, swings, basketball hoops and football goals. Sadly many people simply do not have the space or the budget to buy the equipment but kids can have fun without expensive gear. There are simple games which are great fun and cost nothing at all. Try the old favourite of getting kids to stand opposite each other or in a circle with a bottle of water between their legs. The kids must throw a ball at their opponents’ bottles in turn and the winner is the last one to have any water left. This game costs nothing and sees kids laughing and running around to retrieve the ball. Cheap badminton sets, water pistols and frisbies will also get children playing happily outside and running about without breaking the bank.
Out and About
Getting kids playing sport is the best way to keep them fit and helps them to make friends and find an interest in life. Most children will find a sport they enjoy but if they are not sporty or you cannot afford the associated costs then trips to local open spaces to have a walk, a kick around or to fly a kite will help immensely and give parents quality time with their children. Small kids can be encouraged to take part in activities by the use of interesting and colourful equipment like brightly coloured kites from Brookite or fun footballs like Crocodile Creek balls featuring interesting and loveable characters.
Getting kids engaged in the natural world is another way to encourage them to appreciate time outdoors. Not every child is sporty but there is something for everyone out there. Introduce them to the various small creatures that inhabit the area or interesting plants and trees and create treasure hunts and discovery walks asking them to find certain species. These activities cost nothing at all but can be fun and interesting for hours. If you have the budget there are a variety of great explorers’ kits on the market to enhance their experience. Exploring parks, woodland, river banks and even the local streets can be a great adventure for children. Every minute they are active makes a difference.
Ultimately there are no excuses for allowing children to spend their lives in front of the TV. There is a big wide world to be explored and enjoyed and every neighbourhood has somewhere within walking distance that offers opportunities for discovery and play. Many great activities can be created for free with just a little imagination and they will change a child’s life for the better.
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Sally Stacey is a keen writer and lover of the great outdoors. She loves walking in the country and hates video games!