Creating active kids
That's it folks! The Olympics are over for another four years (bar the shouting of the closing ceremony), and Team GB are officially Olympic heros! Ranking second in the medals tables, we've beaten China for the first time. That's no small feat, especially given our population differences, and a testament to the tens of millions poured into elite training. I'm not sure if it's a justification for it, when there are so many other possible and worthy causes for those funds in an era of austerity, but that's another debate...and anyway, let's face it, we've probably all enjoyed the sense of achievement these games have brought.
But...what about the all-important 'legacy' we hear politicians talk about so much? Does it really exist?
Sporting participation since London 2012
I've just been reading about grass-roots participation in sports since 2012 in the Guardian (July 2015, Ami Sedghi). Here's what it said:
In 2012, the number of people aged 16+ participating in sports at least once a week peaked at 15.9m (2011: 15.1m)
Since then, this level has fallen year on year to 15.5m (2015)
The sports with the biggest increases since 2011 are athletics, cycling (no surprises there), and at a lower overall level, tennis, weightlifting and sailing. Swimming and football had declines of around 10% each.
BUT compared to 2005/6 data, there was little increase in any sports other than athletics and cycling, and tennis, football and swimming all fell, the latter two quite significantly.
Getting our kids healthy through sport
Data from the BBC shows that the age at which obesity is becoming prevalent in UK society is getting lower. 2013 data (source: King's College London) showed obesity rates of around 38% for 11-15 year olds; around 30% for 6-10 year olds; and almost 25% for 2-5 year olds. In 1994 this range was 20-28%.
The youngest Olympian in 2016 was a 13 year-old table-tennis star...now I have no aspiration for my kids to reach those heights or live the life that comes with it, but it does suggest that active kids can achieve great things, and the health benefits of regular exercise, be that formal or informal, are clear. We can't all afford the time or money to enrol our kids in regular sporting activities, but since the official Olympic legacy results aren't stacking up too well, perhaps we should make it our personal responsibility to get our kids active. It doesn't have to be an Olympic effort...from little acorns great things grow!
Get kids active at a young age
There are so many ways in which we can be active with our kids for little or no cost, from bike rides to dancing to the radio. I just came home from a birthday party where two 12 year olds taught a bunch of 8 year olds a dance routine and then set them up in a dance off...it was fabulous outdoor fun, and the girls absolutely loved it. I've recently downloaded a 10 minute Amazon Prime workout video - it's about all I can fit into my day with any certainty that I will actually do it, but the kids love dancing around me as I plod along with it, and there are lots of simple steps they love joining in with. We have fun doing it together as a simple healthy activity. So get creative and take a few minutes each day to find a way to be active with your kids...the benefits could last a lifetime.
Gotrovo treasure hunt game is a fun and creative way to get your kids running around whatever the weather. Indoor and out, it's activity for the legs and mind, and can last from 10 minutes to much, much longer! (Warning: Kids tend to want to play it again and again!)