Keep'er Fit

Gary Wallace

Please help keep our kids active

Over the Summer months I have had the pleasure of coaching at the IFA Summer camps. I love taking these camps because the main emphasis is on having fun. This encourages more children to take part in the camps and hopefully they will develop a love for football and sport in general.

But I must confess I was also shocked by the number of obese and overweight children attending the camps. The more worrying fact was these children were seemly active and were attending and joining in some form of activity, but what about the children who have no interest in sport or keeping active?

Recent research has suggested that only one in three children are physically active every day. Even when they are ‘physical active’ less than 50 per-cent of the time spent in sports practice, games, and physical education class involves moving enough to be considered physical activity.  Modern technology has had a massive influence on childhood obesity.

It is suggested that children and teens spend more than seven hours per day, on average, using TVs, computers, phones, and other electronic devices for entertainment. As a result of all this inactivity about one out of three children are either overweight or obese in the UK, with overweight teens having a 70 per-cent chance of becoming overweight or obese adults.

It’s time to take action and we as parents, young adults and role models must step up and guide our children in the right direction. Here are a few ways in which you can encourage children to become more physically active.

Talk with your child’s doctor – If your child is overweight or obese I would advise regular health checks.  Your child’s doctor can also help your child understand why physical activity is important.

Find a fun activity – Help children find a sport that they enjoy. The more they enjoy the activity, the more likely they will continue it. Get the entire family involved. It is a great way to spend time together.

Choose an activity that is developmentally appropriate – For example, a seven or eight-year-old child may not find running long distances enjoyable but may run the same distance chasing a ball around a football pitch.

Plan ahead – Make sure the child has a convenient time and place to exercise. Getting them involved with a club or afterschool program will ensure that they know when and where they are going.

Provide a safe environment – Firstly ask your child do they feel safe participating in the sport, they may just need reassurance from an adult they trust that it is safe. Make sure they have the appropriate equipment including their clothing.

Invest in equipment – Young children especially need easy access to balls, skipping ropes, and other active toys.  I just bought my son his first hurl and he hasn’t put it down since he got it.

Be a role model – Children who regularly see their parents enjoying sports and physical activity are more likely to do so themselves. My son enjoys coming to my coaching and own training sessions. He can play about and even copies what we are doing on the training pitch from time to time.

Play with your child – Help them learn a new sport but don’t over coach.  My son is the hardest child to coach because I’m his dad first. When coaching most kids I let him solve their own problems and guide them as much as I can without telling them what to do all the time.

Turn off the TV – Limit TV watching and computer use. This can be hard but it is a must. I have fallen in to the trap plenty of times when I’ve been busy with work and then realise that my son has been watching TV for the past few hours.

When we do get a chance to watch TV in the evenings I try and find something we can both watch.

This has been great for me also as I get to introduce him to some classics like Karate Kid and Cool Runnings.

Coaching young kids and encouraging them to lead a healthy and active lifestyle is a huge passion of mine. As a result, I will be running my own children classes starting mid-September.

There will be a number of classes for children between the age of four-17-years old. For more information on these classes checkout our  Facebook page CORE NI, email info@coreni. or call 07708089130.

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