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Getting Children Active

There has been a lot of concern raised about obesity in children in Barbados and while we see some children doing great in sports, the numbers involved are really very small.


Children are naturally physically active and they love to move around and if you doubt that watch them in a play area.


As children grow older it can be a challenge to get them the amount of daily exercise that they need and especially if they were encouraged to spend most of their time in the classroom, doing home work and watching television or on some device.


This summer is a perfect time to start introducing 'getting active' in your family and that means, that you as well as your children can make the move to become more active.  


Understanding the benefits of being active is important.  When children are active their bodies can do the things that they want and need them to do because regular exercise provides these benefits:


  • strong muscles and bones

  • weight conrol

  • decreased risk of developing type 2 diabetes

  • better sleep

  • a more positive outlook on life

Healthy physically active children are also more likely to be academically motivated, alert and successful and physical competence builds self esteem at every age.

So there is a lot to gain from regular physical activity, but how do you encourage children to get active?  


As the parent, you can take the first step to encourage your children by getting active yourself and making it part of the family routine.  When children see you active, they are likely to want to get involved and to try wht you are doing.  I remember my own daughter years ago, watching me play squash and decided that she wanted to play just to beat me, although she was involved in other activities. 

This led to her winning local and regional titles and traveling to participate in tournaments where she met a number of children with the same interest, but from a number of cultures and speaking various languages.  That was the back ground that led to her present career.

Taking walks together, riding together and getting involved in an activity is a good place to start.   Going for a swim once or twice a week, skipping or even getting into an activity like tennis, squash, badminton or martial arts can bring great benefits to you and your child.


Try doing something for at least an hour every day.  You can also even engage in counting your steps.  A step counter (also called a pedometer) is a good way to get tech-savvy kids into exercise. If you get one for all your kids and yourself too, encourage gentle competition to see who can clock up the most steps and that can help motivate them.


It is important to remember that choosing the right actiivty for a child's age is also going to be a key point in getting the child moving because you do not want him/her to be bored or frustrated.  What you might find fun, might not be fun for them so allow children to have a choose in the activity that he/she wants to do.  What ever you do, make it fun and interesting for the child.


Very often children get into a sport just for fun or for something to do and they go on to excel in it and the rewards cannot be understated.  Children get to travel on teams, learn time management, learn how to multi task and their understanding of cultures also grows.


Sometimes the same activity creates an opportunity for a career or puts the child in line for scholarships.

This web site lists a number of extra curricular activities that children can explore.

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