When the goodtoknow team got the opportunity to talk to Denise Lewis about motivating children to move more we were very excited! Denise Lewis OBE is an Olympic gold medalist, who won the Heptathlon in the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
Denise has 3 children; Lauryn, 9, Ryan, 5 and Kane, 2. The married mum of 3 shares her top tips on how to motivate kids and get them moving more whilst having fun. Remember, goodtomove is about little and often, getting your kids to do just 15 minutes worth of exercise a day is all it takes for them to benefit from a longer, healthier life.
Do you have any top tips for getting your kids to do fun activities at home?
‘We’re a really active family, my kids love running around and get a lot of exercise. I think this comes in part from the example my husband and I have set. They see us being very active and are aware of our interest in sport. This meant that they developed a natural interest in movement from a very early age. I think if your children see you doing things then they want to get involved too, it’s important to set a positive example.
We also build time in the day for active play. The 30 minutes before we sit down for dinner is the time for us to do something fun together, whether it’s a game of tig in the garden or playing catch with a soft ball in the hall.’
Do you have any fun ways on how to make exercising more appealing to kids?
‘Get outside and have fun – then it’s easy, kids love to play and it needn’t feel like ‘exercise’. Encouraging your children to play together and getting involved with their games helps you form a stronger bond with your children and uses up some of their endless amounts of energy!
I would also recommend making the most of the outdoor space around you. We’ve got a nice farm near us that is very child friendly; there’s lots of space for kids to run around and a great play area that caters for all age groups, so my children love spending an afternoon there.’
Do you have any top tips on how to inspire and motivate kids to keep them active?
‘Kids love to be challenged so teaching them a new game or a new skill such as doing a handstand or a drop kick is a way to inspire them. My daughter loves to find out what I can do and then have a go herself so it’s often ‘mummy can you do a cartwheel?’
I always enjoyed playing as a child, I had an active imagination and was never bored. I think you need to remind children that there’s so much to do; there’s never a reason to be bored. Children also need to be encouraged to ‘have a go’ and not give up too easily.’
What activities did you do as a kid to get you excited about sport?
‘As a kid, I loved running around and I had a natural interest in movement. I actually started off doing ballet which I really enjoyed. I was also inspired by the sport I saw on TV, I remember watching the Olympic Games when I was about 8 and thinking “wow, that’s what I want to do.’
What do you think are the greatest challenges for mums when getting kids to move more?
‘Time – there’s just not enough of it! I think sometimes parents feel pressured that they have to do ‘something big’ with their children as a way of keeping them active. If you need to drive to local facilities it becomes much harder to factor the time in to do it.
My advice would be work with the space you have and get creative – make up games to play with your children. It can be as simple as chasing them round the garden or local park – kids love being chased!If you don’t have any outside space, there are things fun things you can do indoors. We’ve got some coloured rubber circle mats which we set up in the hall or in the sitting room, the children love hopping from one to another.’
Do you have any games kids could do at home or in the garden that might even inspire them to take part in something as big as the Olympics in the future? ‘We have a trampoline in the garden which my daughter just loves playing on, she can spend hours practicing new tricks. We also have a mini skittles set and cricket set which are great fun to play with, and the whole family can get involved too. I also love to take my kids cycling – it’s another great excuse to spend time with the whole family and enjoy some quality time in the great outdoors.’
This month, Denise Lewis will be joining the ‘make mine MILK’ campaign. For more information on the campaign please visit the makemineMILK.co.uk.