New guidance offers parents 14 simple steps to get their children active

Youth Sport Trust has released simple guidance for parents on National Parents in Sport Week to help get families active.

New advice aimed at giving mums and dads the know-how they need to get their families more active has been published by the Youth Sport Trust to mark the start of Parents in Sport Week (2 to 8 October).

The national children’s charity, which works to create a brighter future for young people through sport, has pledged support to the NSPCC for the national awareness week. The Active Parent report, published today, was commissioned by the Department of Health through the Change4Life Sports Clubs programme developed and delivered by the Youth Sport Trust to help parents become role models for physical activity and have the confidence to get their children more active every day. 

By encouraging parents to follow 14 steps to a more active lifestyle, the Youth Sport Trust’s guidance aims to give children a better chance of having fewer avoidable health conditions, make safer choices about a healthy lifestyle, perform better at school, have stronger emotional wellbeing and be more resilient.

The Change4Life Sports Clubs programme has seen the Youth Sport Trust work in partnership to develop a network of more than 9,500 school-based physical activity clubs across England targeting the areas of greatest need. The programme develops physical confidence, competence and a love of being active in children through innovative club formats which are inspired by Olympic and Paralympic Sport. 

School staff, parents and young leaders are all involved and to date the programme has increased levels of physical activity (67% increase in number of children achieving 60 active minutes a day), improved understanding of healthy lifestyles, improved participation in PE and sport and improved achievement in school (reported 70% positive improvement in cross curricular learning)*. 

Ali Oliver, Chief Executive of the Youth Sport Trust, said: 

Physical activity is crucial to the children’s wellbeing and ultimately their performance in the classroom so the growing levels of inactivity among young people should be a real concern for all of us.

Mums and dads have a really important role to play right from getting their children involved in sport and physical activity at a young age through to supporting them to follow an active lifestyle as they get older. The Government’s obesity strategy makes clear that every child should be getting 30 active minutes at school and 30 at home with their families reflecting the Chief Medical Officers recommendation of 60 active minutes a day for 5-16 year olds.

“We know that parental influence is one of the greatest drivers in determining children’s physical activity levels.  Parent’s attitudes, behaviour and encouragement help define those of their children and so we want to help as many as possible with simple tips and ideas to help them inspire and encourage children to be more active. 

“Our Active Parents guidance aims to support those parents who may feel they do not have the confidence or knowledge to incorporate an active lifestyle into their everyday lives. We hope that this guidance will celebrate the positive role that parents play, and guide them on how they can continue to  support their children to grow-up happy and healthy through the power of sport and physical activity.”

More than 100 sports organisations in the UK and Ireland will also be marking Parents in Sport Week to celebrate the role that parents play and ensuring that parents’ involvement is a positive one.

Explaining the aims of Parents in Sport Week, Paul Stephenson of the NSPCC’s Child Protection in Sport Unit, said:

“Parents greatly influence a child’s experience in sport through the actions they display and the opportunities and feedback they provide to their child. 

“Parents will be aware that sometimes it’s difficult to know what feedback to provide, what actions are the 'right' actions, and how best to support their child.”

The Youth Sport Trust’s Active Parents guidance includes a series of ideas and advice on how parents can get children active and enjoy physical activity. Click here for more information and to download the guidance.

1. Exchange screen time for active time

There’s nothing wrong with a bit of screen time, as long as it’s part of a balanced day. Can you swap half an hour of physical activity with half an hour of screen time? Can you find TV programmes, console games and apps that encourage physical activity? ‘Minute shake up’ is a great example made by Disney and Change4Life as a new way of using technology to make kids more active.

2. Become part of a team

Any challenge is easier to face if you’re doing it as part of a team. You don’t have to join a formal sports club. Instead, could you join up with members of your extended family, with neighbours and friends or with parents at school to take part in regular activities together?

3. Involve your child in choosing what to do

When children have some control over what they do, they are more likely to stick at it.

4. Make family time an active time

Family time together is very precious. Make it even more enjoyable and rewarding by making it active by walking together, playing outside together in local parks, woodlands, adventure playgrounds or other green spaces, or even growing your own food together. The Change4Life website can help you to find local activities.

5. Stand more, sit less

Sitting for long periods is thought to slow the metabolism, which increases the risk of obesity and type two diabetes. Can you have a family challenge where everyone avoids sitting down for more than 15 minutes at a time? Stand up, stretch and move about. Make this a family habit. It’s easy and free.

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