Childhood obesity is thought to be the biggest challenge of a generation. The cause is a blend of both diet and exercise. Arguing about which one won’t help anyone. The best thing to do is to improve diets as much as possible and to increase overall exercise.
A child over five years should be exercising for more than 60 minutes a day- so how can you get them off the sofa and start tackling the problem? From climbing frames for older children to taking a walk or bike ride, here are the top ways to tackle obesity with outdoor activities.
Cycling may be a chore to adults, but to children it’s second nature. Wherever you live, it should be possible to find somewhere to go on a bike, whether it’s a country park, forest trail or simply a bike route via cycle lanes across town. Second-hand bikes can also be purchased for a small amount of money via eBay or Gumtree, so there are few barriers to this option.
Walking is completely free and can be done anywhere, making it the most barrier-free way to tackle obesity. Unfortunately, as far as kids are concerned, it’s pretty boring. Make your walk fun by buying a dog, playing Pokemon Go or hunting for Geocaches, fossils or birds. Walking is better if there’s an outcome, even if it means food at the end – just make sure the food reward doesn’t undermine the walking!
Playing and Outdoor Fun
Outdoor play has gone down dramatically in recent years, and this is a major factor in the increase in obesity. Encouraging children to play outdoors for an hour a day is a great way to tackle obesity. However, there are barriers: those who live in inner cities may have small gardens or not feel safe at the park. If your garden is big enough, the many options for garden play equipment can help encourage them to go out. Looking at climbing frames for older children could be the perfect way to encourage outdoor play, as well as football goals, cricket sets, tennis nets and so on.
If all parents aimed to provide an hour’s outdoor exercise for their child each day, in addition to the school day, instances of obesity in children in the UK will almost certainly reduce.