We should all try to reduce the amount of time we spend sitting down watching TV, and move more. Being physically active is good for you and your children – and it’s easier than you think.
Babies need to be active too! Make sure that your baby is able to move about as much as possible. Lie them on their stomach so that they can kick their legs and stretch their arms.
Children under five
It’s important for children under five to be active for at least three hours each day. The good news is that they get a lot of activity by just playing at the playground, climbing and jumping, running and chasing, or getting to and from places like the park or a friend’s house.
Make sure that you get them out of the buggy as much as possible so that they can really stretch their legs.
Over the course of a week you should do at least 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of moderate activity. You don’t have to do this all at once though, and there are added benefits of being active daily – you can break it up into 10-minute sections or try for 30 minutes, 5 days a week.
‘Moderate activity’ means doing things that get you breathing hard and get your heart beating faster, but you can still carry on a conversation – good examples are brisk walking or cycling.
Being active when you’re pregnant
Being active is still important when you’re pregnant. This doesn’t have to mean going to the gym or exercising until you’re exhausted. You might also want to think about what you can fit into your day. It’s best to do activities that are low impact (avoid sports that could strain your joints) and to choose something you can manage easily without hurting yourself.
If you’re not used to getting much activity, every little helps. Take it easy and ask your midwife for advice about how to be active safely.
The more active and fit you are during pregnancy, the easier it will be for you to adapt to your changing shape and weight gain. Staying active will also help you to cope with labour and get back into shape after the birth.
Being active when you have a baby
Keeping active doesn’t have to be expensive – and there are lots of things you can do that are free!
- Walking is great for your circulation and will get you out in the fresh air and sunshine – summer sunlight is our main source of vitamin D. Remember to always cover up or put on some suncream so that your skin doesn’t burn.
- Check out your local council website for your nearest swimming pool – lots of councils offer discounts for families and kids, and some offer crèche facilities or let you bring your baby into the pool with you.
- Ask your health visitor about free postnatal exercise groups in your area.
For more information:
NHS Choices (England)
Birth to five (Northern Ireland)