Keep your children fit during the holidays

Monday December 10 2018

A parent’s positive attitude will help a child

A parent’s positive attitude will help a child who’s reluctant to exercise. STOCK PHOTO 

By Joan Salmon

The holidays are here and this is the time most parents struggle to get their children off that sofa for any physical activity. Patrick Lihanda, the coach of the National Boxing Team, is passionate about children and says creativity is important when coming up with activities for these youngsters. Here are some of the activities he recommends:

Children are always thrilled with skipping a rope but a little creativity will draw them in even the more.
Banana split: While it does not actually involve jumping, players have to pay attention to the timing of the swinging rope. You need a long rope and two people to turn it. The rest of the players form a line with the first person in line facing the rope. The turners swing the rope forward toward the line, then away. As they do so, the first player must run under the rope and back without touching the rope or letting it touch them. After one pass, the second person in line joins in and both players run under the rope. Then three runners go together, and so on. If anyone touches the rope or fails to make it back and forth in time, the game starts again with one player running.

Snake: This game is good for learners or younger children that might have trouble timing their jumps while skipping. The rope stays on the ground with a person holding it at each end and waving it gently along the ground like a slithering snake, while other players attempt to jump over it. Let the children take turns at being the jumper and the rope-mover.
Partner jumping: You can make the rope games even more exciting by trying to jump with a partner using one rope. Try face-to-face, with one person holding both ends of the rope or side-by-side, where each person holds one end of the rope.

Robert Ochieng, a swimming instructor also urges parents to take children for swimming. Apart from the basic swimming, which is great in its own right, Ochieng says that there are other things that children can do while in the water. However, there must be an adult to supervise them. Such activities include:

Lifesaving skills: Participation in swimming and water safety programmes is great due to the immense benefits. These include: due to its low impact nature, it is an excellent form of exercise, it is a wonderful activity for the whole family, motor development, balance and coordination skills are greatly increased, competence in skills is achieved thus boosting the children’s confidence levels, and medical conditions such as asthma and low muscle tone are improved. These skills are very important as they may prevent a child from drowning and enable them to make sound decisions when in an emergency situation. They include sculling, treading water, floating, safe entry and exit from the water, clothed swimming survival techniques, use of devices to assist rescue, and basic swimming skills.

Aqua aerobics: It is a performance of aerobics exercises in fairly shallow water such as a swimming pool. It is done mostly vertically in typically waist deep or deeper water without swimming. Most water aerobics is done in a group fitness class setting with a trained professional teaching and the focus is on aerobic endurance, resistance training, and creating an enjoyable atmosphere with music which your children will greatly enjoy.

There is a lot to gain from regular physical activity, but how do you encourage children to do it? According to, these are the keys:
• Choosing the right activities for a child’s age. If you do not, the child may be bored or frustrated.
• Giving children plenty of opportunity to be active. Children need parents to make activity easy by providing equipment, signing them up for classes or sports teams, and taking them to playgrounds and other active spots.
• Keeping the focus on fun. Children will not do something they do not enjoy, therefore as a parent, come up with ideas of fun activities that they enjoy and draw a timetable to follow.

Be a role model
If you vegetate in front of the TV every night, the remote control in one hand and snacks in the other, you are not practicing what you preach and your children are not likely to respect restrictions you set. So check your own viewing behaviour and serve as a role model by incorporating physical activity into your everyday life. When you can, walk instead of driving. Climb the stairs rather than wait for the elevator. Regularly participate in activities that you enjoy and let your children see and hear about how much you enjoy them.