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Family life 08 Apr 2021

Active kids

How to get your kids moving

Children exercising

If bad weather or technology distractions are holding your little ones back from playing outside, discover some alternatives to keep your kids active.

Recent reports from around the world suggest that inactivity among youngsters is a growing problem, with several countries finding their children falling short of recommended targets.

In the UK, the National Health Service (NHS) states children should do at least an hour's physical activity every day1 to help them stay fit and healthy. However, the Health Survey for England 2015 found only 22% of youngsters aged five to 15 met the physical activity guidelines of being at least moderately active for at least 60 minutes every day2. In Canada, only 7% of kids aged five to 11 meet the guidelines for 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity a day3. While in Australia, national data from parents indicate that only 26% of Australian children aged two to four are meeting sedentary guidelines – that is, spending less than an hour in front of a screen each day4.

You are their role model

Lead by example and show your little ones exercise is good by getting in on the action. If you already exercise regularly, be sure to invite the kids along to pick you up after class, or sit and watch the fun if it’s allowed. Look out for parent and child-friendly fitness classes in your area, such as bend+bloomYOGA in New York or Fitness Kids in Surrey, or take up a whole new hobby you can enjoy together, like geocaching, trampolining or kickboxing.

Introduce family challenges

Make some changes the whole family can be involved in and set yourself some fun and healthy challenges, whether that's committing to a monthly family game day or going for a cycle after school.

Plan healthy rewards for successfully completed challenges, like a picnic at the beach or a quick and healthy lunch in the city, or new fitness gear. That said, the biggest reward will be the time you spend having fun exercising together.

“Lead by example and show your little ones exercise is good by getting in on the action. If you already exercise regularly, be sure to invite the kids along to pick you up after class or sit and watch the fun.”

Family playing cricket on the beach

Think inside the ring

While traditional sports remain an excellent choice for most little ones, there are plenty of other options for those who aren’t inspired by tennis, football or gymnastics.

Circus skills are an unusual trend currently capturing the imagination of adults and kids alike. Juggling, tightrope walking and aerial acrobatics all offer some huge health benefits in a non-conventional setting. Get inspired by the Circus Arts Institute in Atlanta or AirCraft Circus in London.

Discover dancing delights

Whether you want to channel your inner ‘Dance Mom’ or simply set aside half an hour a couple of times each week to boogie on down to your favourite tunes in the living room, dance is a brilliant way to encourage reluctant sportsters to exercise.

Kids can dance as part of a team or individually, making it ideal for little ones who like to be social sometimes but also enjoy flying solo.

Encourage exercise experiments

Once you’ve found a fitness class or activity that fits into everyone’s schedule, the temptation to stick with it might be strong. But if your child is no longer enjoying their active time, encourage them to look for alternatives and adapt to their changing tastes – whether it’s a new martial art, Zumba or even parkour (check out parkour classes for kids).

The Active Healthy Kids Global Alliance has prepared report cards on the physical activity of children and youth in 38 countries across six continents, and it’s becoming clear that too much time spent in front of a screen or cosied up indoors is taking its toll. That’s why it has never been more important to find new ways to inspire and support your little ones to enjoy a more active lifestyle.


1. NHS (, last accessed in April 2017

2. NHS (, last accessed in April 2017

3. CBC News (, last accessed in April 2017

4. Active Healthy Kids Australia, citing Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australian Health Survey: Physical Activity, 2011–12 2013: Catalogue No. 4364.0. Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics. (, last accessed in April 2017

Bupa Global (, last accessed in April 2017

Kids Health from Nemours (, last accessed in April 2017

NHS ( ), last accessed in April 2017

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