Active kids are happier kids. Public Health England research from 2015 shows how 5-11 year olds are positively impacted by getting involved in physical activity – with their social skills and self-esteem boosted, as well as their overall health.
Key to this is family. Research from Disney in association with YouGov reveals that over half of parents (55 per cent) and children (59 per cent) believe that being active with their family would make them want to be healthier.
It’s something that international gymnast-turned-sports presenter Gabby Logan feels strongly about. “Being active helps children to conquer so much, from their energy levels to body confidence,” she says. “Getting our children healthy is one of the most important things we can do. Plus, it teaches great life lessons. Nothing happens without working hard and this teaches children that.”
Which is why Gabby has partnered with Disney’s Let’s Go Week. A series of interactive sessions for parents to share ideas on helping your family be active, it takes place from the 10-16th April on Disney’s Facebook and YouTube channels. You’ll be able to follow the experience of three families as they take part in swimming, running and healthy eating challenges, plus, along the way you’ll find new ideas and get the opportunity to discuss this important issue with other parents. More inspo will be available until the end of summer with video tips on fast and easy activities families can do as a team. With two kids of her own (11-year-old twins Reuben and Lois), we asked Gabby for her tips on getting your little ones out and about.
1. Mix it up
Humans – adults and children alike – crave novelty. So mixing up your activity is a good way to keep your family interested. “Remember that jumping in puddles, running around and all those things that kids naturally do are a part of being active,” says Gabby. “We need to encourage our kids to be kids. They have heaps of energy that never seems to go down.”
It’s a given that in any family each person is going to have things they love to do and things they’re not so keen on. “One thing that can unify everyone are ‘things that don’t necessarily look like sport’” says Gabby. “Like going to a park that has an assault course where everyone can have a go.”
2. Embrace the new season
We’ve come out of winter and summer’s promise is in the air. This means now is a great time to get outside. “We’ve had some glorious weather recently and it’s so great to be able to spend the weekend outdoors,” says Gabby.
“When the clocks go forward and there’s that extra hour of light, you have such a spring in your step. So now’s the time to try and get everyone out on a bike ride or for a walk. My family and I live in the country and for a lot of the year we can’t go running over the fields, so my daughter and I are excited about that.”
3. Be inspired by Disney’s characters
We all need a little help on how to be active from time-to-time. “Parents are kids’ first role models,” says Gabby. “We can’t tell them it’s important to play and do sports if we don’t do it ourselves.” Why not encourage your little ones to borrow ideas from Disney’s characters? From dancing along with the cast of hit show The Lodge or seeing if they can run as fast as Simba from The Lion Guard, if their favourite character is doing it, they’ll be getting involved in no time.
You can find further tips by checking out Disney’s Let’s Go week videos on Disney’s Facebook and YouTube pages for ideas that the whole family can get involved with. Featuring Disney’s stories, creativity and characters, the videos offer easy and fast activities families can do together.
4. Love the buzz
To get you feeling positive about being more active, focus on how good you’ll all feel afterwards. “I have never not felt happier after exercise,” says Gabby. “Unless you’re ill and shouldn’t be training, you’ll get that burst of endorphins and create a good mood.”
Encourage your kids to be goal-focused: ask them to try and try again to cycle up a hill in one go or time how fast they can run a certain distance. “I really hope any family who takes up a challenge over the week loves how great it feels and wants to keep going with it,” Gabby says.
5. Try athletics
Are there any activities we’re not doing enough of that could help to engage kids? “I would say this, but athletics,” says Gabby. “If you watch professionals complete, you’ll see every type of body – really strong discus throwers, tall high jumpers – it’s really varied and there’s so much to try.” Any other ideas? “And I really would say this, but gymnastics. My dad [Terry Yorath, former footballer and manager] did gymnastics when he was young and said it was really helpful in his career. And which child doesn’t love showing you how they can do a cartwheel or do a headstand?”
Disney’s Let’s Go week will run from Monday 10 until Sunday 16 April. Further inspiration will be available throughout the year with a series of Disney Let’s Go video guides available on disneyhealthyliving.co.uk.