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Speak Up and Speak Out About Stress

Posted on 1st November 2017 by

This Wednesday is National Stress Awareness Day, we take a look at what stress is really doing to our  National Stress Awareness Day bodies and how we can both recognise it and combat it.

What is stress?

Stress is anything which exerts pressure on us beyond our individual ability to cope. It has traditionally been thought of as a flight or fight response; increasing our alertness, muscle tone and heart rate to respond to a perceived threat. However modern-day stress can come in many forms such as workplace pressures, relationship issues, juggling family commitments or looking after a sick relative, which can all take their toll.

What happens when we are stressed?

When we are stressed our body releases chemicals such as cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones are imperative for our survival, however if their levels are sustained for a prolonged period they will start to impact on our physical health and affect many different organs in our body.

Symptoms of stress

Symptoms of stress can include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Indecisiveness
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Chronic muscle pain
  • Over or under eating
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Reflux
  • Increased risk of diabetes, heart conditions and stroke
  • Increased susceptibility to colds and viruses

Can exercise help with stress?

Yes! Exercise helps lower our blood pressure, reduce the levels of stress hormones in our body, improve our mood, our muscle flexibility and tone, as well as distracting us from other stressors and helping us to get a good night’s sleep.

Great forms of stress-busting exercise include classes such as Pilates, tai chi and yoga, which focus on breathing and flexibility of the body. They also give us the opportunity to ‘check in’ with ourselves and become more aware of how we are feeling physically and mentally. Whilst this gives us some much needed me-time, classes can also be a great social opportunity which is perfect for boosting our mood!

The ISMA (international stress management association) has come up with 7 positive ways to influence stress

1. Change the thought – Change the outcome

This is the starting point, reprogramming your brain by replacing an unhelpful negative thought or belief with a new positive one. Use your imagination to visualise or ‘show’ your brain what you want. The power of the mind cannot be over-estimated!

2. Self-belief starts with you

This is an empowering way of taking more control in your life rather than relying on others to make you feel good. Do something fun or caring for yourself today!

3. Don’t just do what you did last year

Repeating what you always do will bring you the same outcome unless others change & this is not in your control. So if you didn’t like all that happened last year make plans & set new goals, do something different!

4. Deal with difficult decisions now, not later

“Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today” We all know this but positive action is required to make it happen. Prioritize & do the difficult tasks first in the day so you have a clear focus for the rest of the day making you less stressed & more productive!

5. Find reasons to say “yes”

“I would love to but….” here comes the negative reason why you can’t! It can be a really positive experience to just say yes, if it is possible & what you want, then try to find ways that will allow you the opportunity, maybe you need others to persuade you, take control & decide for yourself!

6. Renegotiate

Stuck with what you have always had & now want a change? Look at learning to develop & use your assertive skills, ask for what you want, discuss your changing needs, expectations with yourself & others to reach the deal that works for you!

7. Flip it!

There are always two sides to every situation, sometimes more. Take time to look at all your options, don’t just assume, maybe ask others & make informed choices based on facts!

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National Fitness Day 2017

Posted on 26th September 2017 by

National Fitness Day 2017 This year’s National Fitness Day is on Wednesday 27th September and promises to continue to encourage the nation to celebrate the fun of fitness and physical activity across the UK.

As part of National Fitness Day, UK Active will be running a social media campaign – #Fitness2Me

#Fitness2Me aims to celebrate what fitness means to people, promoting that keeping physically active means something different to us all.

UK Active want to make #Fitness2Me the biggest movement in breaking down the barriers that stop people being active, showing that fitness is for everyone!

They hope that by encouraging people from all walks of life, activity levels, and interests to share what fitness means to them, it will inspire others to live healthier and happier lives through being active.

So if it is getting fit, getting happy, playing with grandkids, or connecting with pets, whatever it means to you we want to hear about it!

  • Simply grab a piece of paper and scribble down what Fitness Means 2 You
  • Then take a photo or capture a video to share with us on social media
  • Don’t forget to add #Fitness2Me and #FitnessDay and tag us via @FitnessDayUK

A major issue that people face when trying to increase activity levels, is overcoming perceived or actual barriers.

Here are some suggestions for overcoming barriers to physical activity.

Suggestions for Overcoming Physical Activity Barriers
Lack of time Identify available time slots. Monitor your daily activities for one week. Identify at least three 30-minute time slots you could use for physical activity.
Add physical activity to your daily routine. For example, walk or ride your bike to work or shopping, organise school activities around physical activity, walk the dog, exercise while you watch TV, park farther away from your destination, etc.
Select activities requiring minimal time, such as walking, jogging, or stairclimbing.
Social influence Explain your interest in physical activity to friends and family. Ask them to support your efforts.
Invite friends and family members to exercise with you. Plan social activities involving exercise, like family walks or walk to a coffee shop with a friend.
Develop new friendships with physically active people. Join a group, such as a walking club.
Lack of energy Schedule physical activity for times in the day or week when you feel most energetic naturally.
Convince yourself that if you give it a chance, physical activity will increase your energy level; then, try it.
Lack of motivation Plan ahead. Make physical activity a regular part of your daily or weekly schedule and write it on your calendar.
Invite a friend to exercise with you on a regular basis and write it on both your calendars.
Join an exercise group or class.
Fear of injury Learn how to warm up and cool down to prevent injury.
Learn how to exercise appropriately considering your age, fitness level, skill level, and health status.
Make sure you get any injuries checked out, so you have confidence to exercise without fear. 
Lack of skill Select activities requiring no new skills, such as walking, climbing stairs, or jogging.
Take a class to develop new skills.
Lack of resources Select activities that require minimal facilities or equipment, such as walking, jogging, skipping, or free online classes.
Identify inexpensive, convenient resources available in your community Park Run, Eastleigh Borough Council Activities, Health walks etc. 
Weather conditions Develop a set of regular activities that are always available regardless of weather (indoor cycling, free online classes, indoor swimming,  stair climbing, skipping, dancing, yoga, etc.)
Travel Put a skipping rope in your suitcase and skip.
Walk the halls and climb the stairs in hotels.
Stay in places with swimming pools or exercise facilities.
Join a nationwide gym.
Visit the local shopping centre and walk for half an hour or more.
Bring your mp3 player your favorite aerobic exercise music.
Family obligations Trade babysitting time with a friend, neighbour, or family member who also has small children.
Exercise with the kids-go for a walk together, play tag or other running games, do an aerobic dance or exercise video for kids (there are several online) and exercise together. You can spend time together and still get your exercise.
True skipping, ride a stationary bicycle, or use other home gymnasium equipment while the kids are busy playing or sleeping.
Try to exercise when the kids are not around (e.g., during school hours or their nap time).
Retirement years Look upon your retirement as an opportunity to become more active instead of less. Spend more time gardening, walking the dog, and playing with your grandchildren. Children with short legs and grandparents with slower gaits are often great walking partners.
Learn a new skill you’ve always been interested in, such as ballroom dancing, line dancing, or swimming.
Now that you have the time, make regular physical activity a part of every day. Go for a walk every morning or every evening before dinner. Treat yourself to an exercycle and ride every day while reading a favorite book or magazine.

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New report shows health benefits of swimming

Posted on 22nd June 2017 by

A new report has just been published, that outlines the health benefits of swimming.

Based on significant evidence and research, the report summarises that:

“As one of the most popular modes of physical activity, swimming/aquatic exercise confers significant physical health benefits for both healthy individuals and those with disease. Furthermore, these health benefits extend across the entire life-course – from foetus through to the frail elderly.”

As physiotherapist, we often recommend swimming to our patients. Water is an excellent environment for exercising in, not only as a regular, low impact form of exercise but also if you’re recovering from an injury. The buoyancy of water helps promote freedom of movement, increasing joint mobility and easing pain and stiffness. You don’t have to go to a pool and swim lengths! We often give people exercises to do in the water, that they wouldn’t always be able to do on dry land. It is also a fantastic way of maintaining fitness if you aren’t able to take part in your normal high impact exercise (such as running) due to an injury. Swimming can be a way to maintain cardiovascular fitness and endurance, whilst your injury heals and progress is being made at gradually returning you to your normal exercise.

A recent example of a young patient we’ve had at goPhysio, where swimming has been excellent. An 11 year old keen footballer with Severs (heel pain related to growth), Unable to play or attend football training more than twice a week due to heel pain, this young boy was becoming increasingly frustrated, starting to gain weight and loose cardiovascular fitness. Part of the management of Severs is to modify activity and treatments are limited, with time and normal growth rate  being a key part of symptom reduction. So, he was advised to start swimming regularly and his progress has been amazing. He’s felt more positive, been able to maintain and improve fitness and has gradually increased his time on the pitch, without aggravating his pain. Swimming has paid a key part in helping his endurance, strength, muscle flexibility and psychological wellbeing.

The report summarises that  for musculoskeletal health “evidence suggests that aquatic exercise has positive effects for a wide range of musculoskeletal conditions, favourably influencing pain, function and, for some, quality of life. The nature of the aquatic environment is ideally suited to individuals with MSK problems, given the reduced compressive joint force secondary to buoyancy.”

Health Benefits of Swimming

Source: The health & wellbeing benefits of swimming. Commissioned by Swim England’s Swimming and Health Commission, chaired by Professor Ian Cumming, Produced June 2017

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Men’s Health Week- Have you got a hazardous waist?

Posted on 13th June 2017 by

This week is Men’s Health Week 2017 – which runs from June 12-18 – the focus this year is about abdominal obesity – better known as ‘belly fat’. Men's Health Week 2017

Why? Because it’s the type of fat that’s bad for your health and men are more likely to have it.

Belly fat is a problem because it lurks not just beneath the surface but also gets down deep and surrounds your vital organs. Regardless of your overall weight, a large amount of belly fat increases your risk of:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Sleep apnea
  • Premature death from any cause
  • High blood pressure

So, men need to get those tape measures out. If you have a waist measurement over 37 inches (94cm), you are at increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, cancer, stroke and erection problems. If it’s over 40 inches (102cm), you’re ar a considerably increased risk of all these. The measurement is not the same as your trouser size. Measure your stomach at the belly button.

MOVE MORE, EAT WELL, WATCH THE BOOZE.

Want to get serious about tackling your waist? We offer a range of gentle and carefully managed ways to exercise and get you moving more.

  • First and foremost, if you’ve picked up an injury or are in pain, the first thing you do is move less. This can have a substantial knock on effect on your activity levels and habit. So, if you’re in pain or have an injury that’s stopping you being active – whether it’s cycling, walking to work, playing golf, running or doing a few laps of the pool, get in touch or book your physio appointment so that we can help you sort out your injury.
  • Pilates is a fantastic way to get you moving well. Many of the exercises really focus on that core middle area and although they aren’t specifically designed to slim down your waist, many people report that this is an additional benefit.
  • If you’re over 60 and keen to exercise but wary of going to a gym or not sure what exercises are advised or appropriate, why not come along to our Positive Steps exercise classes. They are specially designed for the older generations, and will help give you the confidence to push your body a little.
  • If back pain is stopping you from exercising, why not try our Active Backs classes. Exercises sessions specifically tailored for people with back pain, they will help you learn what exercises will help with your back and again, help improve your confidence in exercising.

Men's Health Week 2017

 

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10 Things You Need To Know About Your Back

Posted on 4th May 2017 by

The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) have today launched a great new campaign, ’10 Things You Need To Know About Your Back’.

Back pain research constantly gives new insights into previously held beliefs. Their new guide reflects these advances to give clear, simple advice on how to manage your pain and prevent future episodes.

Here’s the latest advice from the CSP:

  1. Your back is stronger than you may think Most people worldwide will experience back pain during their lifetime. It can be disabling and worrying but it is very common and rarely dangerous. The spine is a strong, stable structure and not easily damaged so in most instances it is a simple sprain or strain. In these cases – 98 per cent, according to research – people recover reasonably quickly, and many do so without treatment. Some people experience repeat episodes, which can be distressing, but again these are rarely dangerous.
  2. You rarely need a scan and it can do more harm than good
    This is because seeing perfectly normal changes to their spine can cause people to avoid the activities they should be doing to get better, such as exercise and movement in general. In very rare cases, there may be something more serious or underlying that requires medical advice. A scan may help with your diagnosis and symptoms to be aware of are at the bottom of this page. However, these account for just two per cent of cases so if your physio or GP does not send you for one, you should take it as a good sign that there is nothing concerning going on.
  3. Avoid bed rest, stay in work and gradually resume normal activities
    Scientific studies now indicate prolonged rest and avoidance of activity for people with low back pain actually leads to higher levels of pain, greater disability, poorer recovery and longer absence from work. In the first few days of a new episode of low back pain, avoiding aggravating activities may help to relive pain. However, staying as active as possible and returning to all usual activities gradually is actually important in aiding recovery – this includes staying in work where possible. While it is normal to move differently and more slowly in the first few days of having back pain, this altered movement can be unhealthy if continued in the long-term.
  4. You should not fear bending or lifting
    Bending and lifting are often portrayed as causes of back pain and while an injury can occur if something is picked up in an awkward or unaccustomed way, it’s most likely to just be a sprain or strain. The important thing is to practice and get your body used to carrying different loads and weights in a way we find comfortable and efficient. We all run differently, and it’s perfectly normal for us to find our own technique for lifting.
  5. Exercise and activity reduce and prevent back pain
    Exercise is shown to be very helpful for tackling back pain and is also the most effective strategy to prevent future episodes. Start slowly and build up both the amount and intensity of what you do and don’t worry if it’s sore to begin with – you won’t be damaging your back. No one type of exercise is proven to be more effective than others so just pick an exercise you enjoy, that you can afford to maintain in the long-term and that fits in with your daily schedule.
  6. Painkillers will not speed up your recovery
    There is no strong evidence on the benefits of painkillers and they do not speed up recovery. They should only be used in conjunction with other measures, such as exercise, and even then just as a short-term option as they can bring side effects. Exercise, which is safer and cheaper, is considered the preferred option.
  7. Surgery is rarely needed
    There are some uncommon back conditions where there is pressure on the nerves that supply the legs and the patient gets leg symptoms, such as pain, pins and needles or numbness. For these conditions, surgery can help the leg symptoms but it is important to understand that it is not always required. You also need to know that on average, the results for back surgery are no better in the medium and long term than non-surgical interventions, such as exercise. So a non-surgical option, which includes exercise and activity, should always come first.
  8. Get good quality sleep
    The importance of sleep in tackling back pain has become increasingly clear in recent years. This is because it reduces stress and improves your overall feeling of wellbeing, making you less susceptible to the triggers of pain in the first instance and helping you to cope when it does occur. Aim for 7.5-8 hours a night and try to aim for a regular routine, as far as possible. It is also very important to know that there is no best position or type of mattress – whatever feels most comfortable for you is best.
  9. You can have back pain without any damage or injury
    Many physical or psychological factors can cause back pain and often a combination of these are involved. Many factors can cause back pain and often a combination of these are involved. They could be– Physical factors, such as ‘protecting’ the back and avoiding movements, or a simple strain.
    – Psychological factors, including a fear of damage or not getting better, feeling down or being stressed.
    – More general health and lifestyle factors, like being tired and rundown, not getting enough good quality sleep, being overweight or not getting enough physical activity
    – Social triggers, such as difficult relationships at work or home, low job satisfaction or stressful life events, like a family death or illness. Crucially, it’s important to know that all pain is 100 per cent real and never ‘all in your head’, even when factors like stress or mood are involved. Each of the factors can turn up the volume on your pain and gaining a greater understanding of when that can happen puts you in a stronger position to recognise them and learn how to turn down the dial again.
  10. If it doesn’t clear up, seek help but don’t worry Physiotherapists provide expert advice, guidance and treatment for back pain. This is to help reduce your chances of future episodes, while improving your overall health and well-being.

At goPhysio, we offer a range of services to help you manage your back pain. 

Physiotherapy – If you want reassurance and help to become more confident with your back, physiotherapy can help. We can provide expert guidance and treatment for your back pain, tailored to you and your lifestyle. You can book an appointment online or give us a call on 023 8025 3317.

Clinical Pilates – Our specialist Pilates classes are a great way to keep you strong and active. They focus on building strength and flexibility and being able to move well. The classes are small and you will be under the close supervision of one of our Therapists at all times. We run 17 classes a week, including evenings and weekends, at a variety of levels, so it’s easy to find a class to suit you. Have a look at our latest timetable.

Yoga Classes – Our onsite Yoga classes are another great way to get you moving. We offer a range of different styles of yoga, including a gentle and restorative class for beginners to a more challenging Himalayan Hatha class. Bookings are made easily online, you can find out more about booking here.

Active Backs – Our Active Backs classes are supervised exercise classes, specially designed for people who have or have had back pain. The classes will help build your confidence in exercising and are combined with education and advice to empower you. These classes can be booked online.

Symptoms to be aware of:

These symptoms are very rare but you should contact a doctor if you experience any of them:

  • Difficulty passing urine or having the sensation to pass water that is not there
  • Numbness/tingling in your genitals or buttocks area
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control
  • Impaired sexual function, such as loss of sensation during intercourse
  • Loss of power in your legs
  • Feeling unwell with your back pain, such as a fever or significant sweating that wakes you from sleep

Read More:

Low back pain and sciatica, the latest NICE guidelines

Help, I’ve got back pain! What should I do?

Back Pain Myths

 

 


New Exercise Guide For People With MSK Conditions From Arthritis UK

Posted on 15th March 2017 by

A new report has been launched, ‘Providing physical activity interventions for people with musculoskeletal conditions’ by Arthritis Research UK.

The report highlights that physical activity is a key part of a public health approach to musculoskeletal conditions and it has a range of benefits for people with musculoskeletal conditions in terms of improving quality of life and supporting people to be independent.

Musculoskeletal conditions, such as osteoarthritis and back pain, are the greatest cause of pain and disability in the UK. They’re the reason why so many people seek out our help at our physiotherapy clinic in Chandlers Ford day in, day out. As physiotherapists, exercise and activity has always played a key part in our treatment and recovery programmes, so it’s great to see this being highlighted and the recommendations supported.

Exercise can reduce joint and back pain by 25% while also improving sleep, managing stress and reducing depression, anxiety and dementia.

Physical activity is a broad term. It doesn’t have to be thought of as officially exercising or playing a sport. It can include all forms of activity, such as everyday walking or cycling, … active play, work-related activity, active recreation such as working out in a gym, dancing, gardening or playing active games, as well as organised and competitive sport.

What the report does highlight, is that a one size fits all approach is not appropriate. People with different MSK conditions will have huge variations in their physical ability, levels of disability and also lifestyles. This is where a skilled health professional, such as a physiotherapist would come in, to help advise on and tailored physical activity for the best outcomes.

How can physiotherapy help with physical activity?

  • Advise on a specific exercise programme tailored to your condition and lifestyle. As part of our service we always provide a customised exercise programme, including clear explanations and videos, which we email to you.
  • Help you modify your daily activity so that you can stay physically active, balancing activity with your condition, pain levels and physical abilities.
  • Give you confidence to be physically active. With our support and knowledge we will empower you not to be afraid of being physically active.
  • Help you manage your pain so you can stay physically active. We give you the tools to help manage and work with any pain you may be experiencing, as well as using our physiotherapy skills to help ease your pain.

Read more about arthritis and how physiotherapy can help here:

An overview of arthritis

How can physiotherapy help with arthritis?

The importance of lean muscle mass

In addition to our one to one physiotherapy service, we offer a range of other services to help support your physical activity and wellbeing if you’re managing an MSK condition. This includes our specialist Physio led Pilates classes, which are a great way to exercise gently and safely under the supervision of a physiotherapist. We are also introducing clinical yoga and Positive Steps, a supervised exercise class specifically for over 60’s keen improve and stay active.

If you need any help with your MSK condition, please do give us a call on 023 8025 3317 or book an appointment online.


physical activity older adults


The Decline In Physical Activity In Children

Posted on 14th March 2017 by

It was previously thought that physical activity in young people started to decline during adolescence, however, a new study in The British Journal of Sports Medicine has found that physical activity levels actually begin to decline by 6-7 years of age. This correlates with children starting school.

With overwhelming evidence of the importance of physical activity for children, this is really a frightening thought.

Why the decline? There are many factors that are contributing to this problem. Top of my list would be screen time. The amount of time that young people (and adults for that matter) are now spending on screens is central to much of the inactivity. If you want to read more about this, get hold of Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked Hardcover by Adam Alter. There are some hard hitting and worrying facts and figures in this.

Other factors include our busy lifestyles not allowing time for activity, stretched resources in school and the subsequent impact on PE, working parents meaning that school runs have to be done in the car, fears over safety in letting kids get out and explore independently and also financial pressures.

Physical activity and sport are such a fundamental part of a child’s development for so many reasons. It’s crucial we try and get our children moving! Take a look at a previous blog we wrote with some simple ideas how to achieve this. Childhood is the opportunity for individuals to build habits for a lifetime.

Why is sport important for children?


Warming Up for Sport: Things to Consider

Posted on 9th November 2016 by

Warming up for sport is important. It prepares you for the movements you intend to undertake, getting you ready to perform to your best from the offset. Exercise warm ups are intended to safely get us ready for sport and reduce the risk of injury.

Next time you’re warming up think of the following:

The movements of your sport: You want to replicate them in your warm up but at a lower intensity and building them in gradually. i.e. if your sport is weightlifting, you would begin with half squats, repeating several times and gradually increase the depth of the squat until you reach full squatting position.

Dynamic stretching: Your warm-up should include movements which will gradually stretch your muscles. The walking lunge is an example, starting with small lunges, repeating several times before increasing the stride length of your lunge. Static stretches where you hold a muscle in position should be avoided during the warm-up as these have been linked to injury.

Increase heart rate gradually: Start with gentle exercises which get the big muscles of the body going such as jogging. Then begin skipping or some gentle high knees exercises. Follow this by increasing the speed of each previous exercise. This will increase your heart rate steadily and safely.

Give your muscles time to warm up: Avoid trying to squeeze all your warm-up exercises into a 5 minute timeframe especially if you are going to engage in high intensity exercise. A typical football warm-up can take anywhere between 20 and 40mins.

Correct clothing: Make sure it’s flexible enough to allow you to perform all the actions you need without restriction. Make sure it’s warm or cool enough suitable for the conditions you will be in.


National Fitness Day 2016

Posted on 7th September 2016 by

National Fitness Day is the biggest and most visible annual celebration of physical activity. Taking place on 7th September, this year it co-incides with the opening ceremony of the Rio 2016 Paralympic games. The day aims to try and help overcome the challenge of being fit, by involving lots of local clubs, parks and leisure centres in showcasing what they have on offer.

Everyone knows how important being physically active is, the health benefits are undisputed. But getting & keeping active, can be a challenge.

Here’s our top tips on how to be your fittest:

  • Don’t focus on having to EXERCISE, think more about being ACTIVE. You don’t have to be sweating for 60 minutes in an exercise class to get fit!
  • Variety is key – look to incorporate a variety of physical activities into your week. Mix up an exercise class, a walk, housework, a bike ride, taking the stairs instead of the lift, using the car less on a certain day……..or try different organised activities such as a group walk, yoga class, Pilates.
  • Make it fun & sociable. It’s much easier to stick to something if you enjoy it. Take up something with a friend or arrange a physical activity instead of meeting for a coffee!
  • Try something new. Think outside the box and look for something newly launched or new to you to try.
  • Use a pedometer or activity tracker to monitor how active you are. Set yourself goals or challenge friends or family.
  • Don’t let pain or an injury stop you being active. If you find yourself injured, come and get some expert help and advice to make sure you stay active. Even if you can’t take part temporarily in your chosen activity, there are lots of ways to modify your activities to stay active.

#FitnessDay


Is technology to blame for youth inactivity?

Posted on 26th August 2016 by

Research recently undertaken by UK Active has revealed that 9 out of 10 parents blame tech for youth inactivity.

Some Facts & Figures

  • Only half of seven-year-olds are meeting recommended physical activity guidelines of 60 minutes/day.
  • 75% of the 1039 parents interviewed agreed that it is more difficult for parents today to encourage children to become physically active than for previous generations.
  • 90% think technology is partly to blame.
  • Around 10% of children start primary school obese.
  • Only 9% of toddlers are meeting the chief medical officer’s activity guidelines.
  • Just 47% of those in the study think there are enough affordable opportunities for children to be active in their local area during school holidays

As a parent myself I understand the daily battle between over ‘screen time’. I think my kids are pretty active. They all walk to school, they take part in as much sport as possible in and out of school, we get out as a family and enjoy ‘active time’ and they have a garden to play in. My older 2 also share my slight FitBit Activity tracker obsession (and love a bit of healthy competition!) and I was shocked by how little ‘physical activity’ they actually do some days, despite doing all the above.

It has made me think about the very common scenario or typical day of being driven to school and dropped off at the gate, the limited PE provided in schools, wet break (so no opportunity to move around at playtime), being driven home again for an evening sat in front of the TV/playing computer games/doing homework.

It does take investment by parents nowadays to encourage and promote physical activity. But I don’t think it’s purely technology at blame. Many families have working parents who are stretched to their limits too and time resources are scarce. We rely on our cars far too much, so we’re less likely to have physical activity like walking, scooting or cycling built into our daily routine. School sport and PE (in my personal experience) can be pretty shocking! It’s certainly not inspiring for those who aren’t naturally drawn to sport. Organised sports can be expensive and time consuming and not always accessible for everyone. Plus, screen time is often the easy option – when we lead busy lives as working parents, a few hours of quiet time can be bliss!

However, as another report published last year by UK Active highlights, Generation Inactive, inactivity is a ticking tome bomb for the NHS. Just like we want the best for our children in terms of education, nutrition, happiness etc. helping them be physically active is fundamental. We (parents & schools) have to be teaching our children healthy habits for life.

Getting kids active

  • Walk whenever you can – if you find yourself with a bit of extra time, build walking into your day. Seize every opportunity!
  • Take advantage of nature – parks, country parks, beaches…they’re all free to access (apart from parking charges often!) and great for getting kids of all ages active.
  • Arrange to meet friends in an open space for some semi-organised sports, take a ball, rounders, cricket. Once they get going, the kids often take the lead and parents can catch up with others from the sidelines!
  • Take advantage of regular free organised activities in the area like SkyRide or Junior Parkrun. There are also many free sporting activities around in the school holidays. Locally for example, Arsenal Football Club run free coaching sessions in the holidays and in the summer Eastleigh run a great Park Sport scheme.
  • Encourage kids to try something new. Many sports clubs offer free tasters. Try something different or not necessarily mainstream, you may be surprised by what they enjoy.
  • Involve kids in household chores – hoovering, helping in the garden, washing the car. They’re all physical activities, it doesn’t have to be sport.
  • Set a good example. If they see you being active, enjoying investing in your body by walking or exercising, it will be seen as a positive lifestyle choice.

With the cost of games consoles and games these days, how can it not be possible to find a cheaper alternative to be active?!