Get Outside To Beat Obesity!
It was World Obesity Day earlier in October, and it’s got us thinking about the role the great outdoors can play in reducing the risk of obesity in children.
According to data from World Obesity Day, incidences of obesity are spiralling fast, with the condition now being in the top three causes of chronic ill health across the world.
And every country is affected to some degree. It’s down to a dangerous mix of two factors: the increasing availability of cheap, processed food and lifestyle changes which mean we’re far less physically active, even than ten years ago.
Obesity can trigger a number of other health complaints in children too, such as asthma, joint problems and Type 2 diabetes. So it makes sense to reduce the risk.
Small changes make a big difference. And being outside can make the biggest difference of all to activity levels: we are much more likely to be moving around if we’re outside!
Here are some recommendations to help children maintain a healthy weight and get more active:
Build active time into each day
It’s what we do every day that makes a difference. NHS guidelines advise children are physically active for at least an hour a day. Whether it’s running around in the playground after school, walking or cycling home rather than using the car, or kicking a ball around in the garden, even twenty minutes of getting out of breath while moving around will help.
Get active together
Children copy what adults do, so it’s a case of role modelling what you want to see, rather than ‘do as I say, not as I do’. Hide and seek in the woods, going swimming together, using the walk home to talk through the day’s highlights – these are all ways to show children that being active is normal and fun, as well as providing an opportunity to deepen your connection.
Use activities as a treat, not sweets
It’s tempting to reach for the chocolate or crisps as a comfort, or a reward, but this can spark an unhealthy relationship with food. Try and find active alternatives instead: a trip to a skate park or play area, an adventure on a train, a treasure hunt outside.
Set a monthly steps challenge
Turning something into a game or a challenge makes it exciting! The standard recommendation is that adults take 10,000 steps each day as a way to maintain good health. It’s tricky to identify the ideal number for small children, as they can move so erratically – studies with pedometers have found active pre-schoolers can clock anywhere from 6000 – 13000 steps a day! But a pedometer challenge is a fun way to get people moving. Monitor the number of steps each person in your family does in a week. Then in week two, challenge everyone to increase that number. And at the end of week four, see who has made the biggest difference to their step count.
However you do it, getting outside is great for your body and health. Do let us know your top tips for getting active outside regularly. And we’d love to see pictures of you having fun in your Kozi Kidz gear!