Activate fitness at home
Mixing the school summer holidays with the Olympics should be a great recipe for active fun as a family.
Here in the UAE though, there is a danger that kids spend too much time on the couch rather than playing sport because of the heat.
Parents need to get involved to make sure their kids know the importance of an active lifestyle, according to Olympics stars and health experts.
Colin Jackson, an Olympic medalist, points out that if children get the chance to try lots of different activities until they find one they really engage with, they’ll be hooked on sport for life.
“Open kids’ eyes to what sport really is. It’s activity - that means it can be anything just as long as you’re active,” says the former world champion hurdler.
“Get kids to try everything.”
Amanda Gummer, a psychologist who specialises in parenting and play urges families to try different sports as a group, particularly during the summer holidays.
She points out that there are plenty of active games to play together indoors during the sweltering months, such as treasure hunts and balloon tennis.
She says: “It’s not about making huge changes, it’s just about making sure you’re all doing enough activity on a day-to-day basis.
“You all get used to a certain amount of activity and it becomes more natural.”
Gummer warns that watching the Olympics might make families want to be more active, but typically the inspiration from sporting events doesn’t last long. That is why families should think about incorporating more activity into their lives. For example, try to take shorts walk together after Iftar when water can be carried.
She stresses that parents need to be role models for kids and assure them that they shouldn’t feel guilty about doing a sport or going to the gym on their own.
“If the kids see that their mum or dad does a sport or goes to the gym and prioritises it, they’ll see it as a good thing and accept it,” says Gummer.
“Parents shouldn’t always sacrifice their own adult exercise time to do stuff with the kids. You’re giving them a good message if you’re showing them exercise is important to you.”
Top tips from Former British olympian Colin Jackson to get kids more active this summer:
>> Give kids something to aspire to and be excited about. Ask them what they want to do and make the activities happen.
>> Give them the chance to be creative in their own way and let them tell you what sport or activity they want to do. If it’s learning to do the cha cha, let them choose the music.
>> Mums and dads, don’t rely too much on schools, that should just be the foundation and you’ve got to be involved too. Listen to your kids.
>> Make it fun. There’s nothing wrong with children feeling like they’re playing - if they love it, they’ll want to do more and you’ve captured them for life.
>> Think about how the Greeks used the word gymnasium to mean a place to exercise the mind and body. Make the gym a place for kids to be educated physically and mentally.