It can be tricky in winter to convince your child (and yourself!) to get outside to play. But it is important to head out into the rain and cold. We’re lucky in South Africa that we don’t have to worry about extreme cold and snow, so getting outside is a little easier.
It is recommended children play outside for at least an hour each day. South Africa’s children are not getting nearly enough exercise and are in danger of becoming obese. The Discovery Healthy Active Kids Report Card scored our children a D for nutrition and physical activity. These are some of the findings:
- The majority of children are only active for 20 minutes each day.
- Less than half the children in South Africa participate in organised sport and recreational activity.
- The majority of children spend three hours watching television daily.
- Overweight and obese children are on the increase.
- More than 60 percent of children eat fast food three times a week.
- Only 50 percent of children eat enough fruit and vegetables.
Those are scary statistics but there are many ways you can encourage a healthy lifestyle. These include:
Choosing to give healthy gifts – A soccer ball or bicycle for birthday presents will get your children moving.
Make family time active time – Choose to go hiking, playing on the jungle gyms at the park or walking on the beach rather than going to the movies.
Support their activity – Go to your child’s school on sports days to show your interest in them being active.
Set the example – Show your children how much you enjoy being active and they’ll follow along.
You know your child should be playing outside more often but if you’re worried about your child catching a cold, think again. It has been proven being outside and in contact with nature helps to build up the immune system.
“It strengthens the immune system by allowing your child an escape from indoor germs and bacteria and helps form a resistance to allergies,” the Center for Disease Control (CDC) says. It is important to go outside and get fresh air because otherwise bacteria and germs get recycled throughout the house.
“When children and adults spend a long time together in indoor spaces that are small, overheated and poorly ventilated, germs and illnesses pass easily from one person to another,” the California Childcare Health Program (CCHP) says.