Healthy Bodies Make Happy Minds
Why Getting Children Active Is My Top Priority
We’ve all seen the childhood obesity stats. They’re horrifying and getting harder and harder to ignore, particularly as over the past few months the impact being overweight can have on health has become crystal clear. I’m sure those of you who’ve been at home with young children recently will be thinking about the countless times you’ve struggled to get them to sit still and the vast amounts of calories they must burn each day. Don’t worry, I hear you, but sadly it’s a fact that as children progress through primary school they become more sedentary and more exposed to unhealthy foods and snacks.
I’ve spent the past thirty years using Amanda’s Action Club to encourage children to be healthy and active from an early age. For me, nothing is more important when it comes to child development and no cause more pressing. Almost 2 in 3 adults are overweight in the UK and I want to make sure the same isn’t true for generations to come. Of course, thirty years ago, things were a little different. Children had more freedom, sugar consumption wasn’t at an all-time high and there weren’t hundreds of TV channels to choose from. Those things aren’t going to go away and with COVID on our doorsteps, the temptation to keep children inside as much as possible is growing, which is only going to make things worse. That’s the problem, but I’m all about the solution. So here it is…
You may have a preschooler you can’t keep up with and that’s great! I say channel that energy. Preschoolers need activities which develop motor skills like kicking or throwing a ball, hopping on one leg or running in a circle. In my classes, I help them develop fine motor skills too and teach them about their bodies and how to keep healthy. I use cartoon characters called The Body Buddies and have just released a song ‘Can You Eat A Rainbow’ which they absolutely love. It’s a subliminal and really easy way to get the healthy eating message across.
Move to a (strong) beat
I produce my own music – songs for children with adult production values. I do this because I passionately believe that children move better to music and to a stronger beat. Music motivates and inspires and for me, it’s a really useful way to get – and keep children moving.
Don’t let activity levels slide
You only need to look at your local playground to see how much physical energy children naturally have. They love to move around and be active, but they may not continue to do this as they grow older if you don’t help them. Children aged five to sixteen should do at least an hour of physical activity every day. Build this into their day and don’t rely on them doing it in the playground at school.
Make it fun
Ever dragged yourself around the park on a cold, wet morning and given up and gone for coffee halfway through your 5K? We all know what a lack of motivation feels like and children feel this too. Make sure they’re doing something age-appropriate that they enjoy and that they feel good doing. After all, one of the big benefits of being active is the confidence boost it brings.
Move with them
I have a mantra – children move better when adults move too – and it’s so true. You won’t find anyone sitting in the corner, phone in hand at Amanda’s Action Club – we all join in and the children love it. As children grow, family exercise sessions happen less and less. This needs to change. We all need to move more and if we make a pact to exercise together, we’re more likely to find the time to do it. Walk to school, build an obstacle course in the garden, go for a long weekend walk. It doesn’t need to be hard – or expensive.
Healthy Body, Happy Mind
When we exercise, we all feel calmer, more alert and happier. Being active is not just about building strong bones and muscles, but strong minds too. Exercise reduces stress, even in children and if they’re physically active, they’re much more likely to be motivated, focused and alert at school. It sounds easy, but as a mum, I’m well aware, it’s not. The day to day challenges life throws at us can be overwhelming and to throw ballet, swimming, football and a 5K into the mix may well tip you over the edge. That’s not what I’m advocating here. Add a little more movement into every day, in whatever way you can. Build up slowly and remember this should be fun – not just another task on your ever-growing to-do list! If that’s the case I’ll guarantee you, it’ll be the first to be crossed off.
Amanda’s Action Club is for children from 4 months to 3 years. My classes are fun, energetic and packed full of music, activities, early learning and fitness. Children are encouraged to move around, explore their environment, communicate with each other and express themselves. My passion to develop healthy minds and bodies has led me to work tirelessly to get my message across to families across the country and indeed the world. I’ve developed an app, co-written a book and my animation series is in production. I’ve also become a Children’s Champion in Parliament and am working to make sure that politicians and policymakers put children first in all decision-making. They are the future – let’s help them be the healthiest and the happiest they can be.
If you would like to learn more about Amanda’s Action Club then join Mama Tribe LIVE on Instagram at 8 pm on the 23rd September when we will be talking with Amanda!