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The Crisis of Inactive Kids – How Can We Help Kids Get Out More?

Bounding through buttercups near Cowan Bridge
Written by Kirstie

The Crisis of Inactive Kids – We Need To Get Kids More Active

How active are your children? Would they enjoy being part of an international challenge to move more? The Finnish clothing company Reima has launched an ambitious campaign asking families to clock up a million extra hours of physical activity by early January. Incentives include a sensor that links to an interactive game and a prize draw for a family adventure trip to Finland. In this advertising post we bring you news of the challenge, and a giveaway of a ReimaGo jacket and sensor for one lucky reader as our own incentive to get out more…

As still as the winter frost

The hurricanes may have passed yet my children are not rushing into the forests and fields to enjoy the end of autumn. The conkers are staying on the ground. The sheep chew on grass that’s untrampled. And we live in the Lake District, a natural paradise for kids. Sometimes I think there’s a danger of kids staying so still in winter you could mistake them for snowmen. To put this right we marched ours out of the house at the weekend for a treasure hunt to give them some fresh air. It was a great day out and we wondered why we don’t do it more.

Family treasure hunt at Ribble Viaduct

Getting out more with a treasure hunt that took in Ribble Viaduct

As quiet as field mice

It’s not just the fields that are quiet round here. In the courtyard and corridors of secondary school, children stand around and chat. Running is not often encouraged inside and not done much outside. I’m in no doubt our children are safe and warm. But is being safe always the same thing as being healthy?

Camping in bear country with a bear locker and kids

This is how we rolled when they were little but now they huddle in corridors and courtyards

The least active children in history

According to Dr Stephen Mann who is research Director of UKactive, the UK’s largest health body and a regular lobbyist for exercise, inactivity is one of modern society’s most dangerous health risks.

“We have the least active generation in history right now. The fittest child in a class now would be the least fit in a class 30 years ago. This has short term issues in that children don’t develop the kind of moralistic reasoning and language development that comes with play. Their bones aren’t developing properly and they’re not as strong. But more importantly they aren’t developing the physical literacy and key skills that set them up for an active life.”

He says we are standing on a terrifying conveyor belt into the future, “We know an inactive child is an inactive adolescent, an unfit adult and ultimately an inactive older person who is going to have type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart attacks and everything that goes with it, all those conditions that are bankrupting the NHS right now. Ultimately we have stripped physical activity out of our lives, the way to keep a child happy now is to stick a screen in front of their faces. We need to bring back that love of play and enjoyment of the outdoors that children were born with.”

Another Place Anthony Gormley Crosby Beach

If you aren’t careful your kids could go from inactive toddlers to static teens and then eventually this…?

The statistics say the same

His claims are backed up by NHS England’s latest report; just 22 per cent of children are physically active for at least an hour a day outside of school. In Wales only 62 per cent of 3-7 year olds are active for at least one hour every day including school. And that percentage drops to just half (52 per cent) for children aged 8-12.

The government’s Childhood Obesity Strategy sets out clearly that children should be doing 60 minutes of physical activity during the day. We all know the logic of this. Parents know it. Teachers know it. And yet most of us still fail our children by not tipping them outside. But why? Andrew Denton, the Chief Executive of the Outdoor Industry Association and Secretary General of the ‘It’s Great Out There’ coalition believes it’s a simple malaise. “The world has stopped moving. It’s a phenomenal issue.”

At side of swimming pool

Why do we surf by the pool instead of going for a swim?

Evolved too far..?

He says the statistics are frightening and the costs are enormous. “There are more people dying of inactivity related illnesses than smoking. There are billions of pounds being spent on lifestyle non-communicable diseases. We have evolved to the point that we are unevolving. This potentially is the first generation where kids may die before their parents. The health benefits of modern society are being outweighed by obesity and inactivity.”

In the Buff in Iceland

Are we making the future darker for our kids?

UK lags behind

Some countries have been better than others at managing their children’s activity. In school in Finland there are breaks after every lesson and going outside for them is compulsory up to minus 14 degrees. And while roughly a third of the UK population is considered inactive, in Scandinavia that figure is just 7 per cent.

Studying the map of MoominWorld Finland

Navigating around play areas in MoominWorld, Finland

Get a bit sweaty and dirty

Andrew Denton says the solution to health problems caused by inactivity is simple. “Don’t eat quite so much and do a bit more exercise.” But he does acknowledge that the message is hard to deliver in an exciting and engaging way that doesn’t make parents like me feel guilty. He says the Outdoor Industry Association’s message is that in a busy and complex society, outdoor fun may be the easiest and simplest way to get the kids moving.

“Pick up the kids and go out this weekend. Go on a slug safari, get muddy, get dirty, build a dam, go on the Gruffalo trail, go on a Stickman trail, go to the Forestry Commission, go to a local park or a national park. Or go on junior park run but walk it with the stroller and the dog. Take part in exactly what you are wearing, have fun for an hour, get a bit sweaty and dirty and throw away the heart monitor.”

He says the first step is the most important one. “Just do something with your family. Don’t say I’ll never do 60 minutes, so I won’t do anything.”

Playing with stones by the roadside

Get out with the kids and build a dam

Million Hours of Joy

Reima is a Finnish company that’s been encouraging kids outside with their warm outdoor clothing for many decades. It’s recently been working with the Suunto brand (who produce watches, dive computers and sports monitors) to develop the ReimaGO. This is a sensor that can go anywhere with your child, tiny enough to fit into a pocket and costs £39.99. And if you want to splash out, Reima’s range of warm outdoor clothes are designed with special sealed pockets for the sensors.

The sensors give you information on how much your child is moving around, and this can be fed back into Reima’s Million Hours of Active Joy campaign which is currently encouraging kids from fifteen countries across the globe to get more active. Reima hopes you will join in and says you can participate in different ways:

  • Kit your kids up with one of the smart ReimaGo devices. As they move around, your kids can gather energy points on the sensor. If you download the free ReimaGO app from Apple Store or Google Play and sync the device with the app, a little character gets to move in an interactive game. You can configure your activity to be automatically shared with the campaign.
  • Share your children’s hours of exercise on the campaign site reima.com/kidventure.
  • Publish a picture of your child’s activity on Reima’s Facebook Page or Instagram with the hashtag #millionhoursofjoy.

A Finnish style Kidventure

When the project ends in January, families from each country who participated and left their details with the website will be entered into a draw for a trip to Ruka in March. The Reima Kidventure will be an international active family adventure involving husky riding, a search for the Northern Lights and a visit to Santa Claus.

Kids by the lake in Finland

Our kids enjoyed the great outdoors in Finland – yours could too

Get More Active with ReimaGo Challenge Jacket and Sensor Giveaway

To say thanks for reading this far we are pleased to invite you to take part in our giveaway of a brand new Reima Regor/Roxana jacket* (RRP£115) and ReimaGO sensor £39.99. (*The promoter will endeavour to provide the pictured style of jacket in the size requested by the winner but if stocks are out, a product of a similar value will be substituted.)

Reima Prize

Giveaway Bundle: 1 Roxana or Regor jacket only plus 1 ReimaGo sensor (see terms and conditions)

How to enter

All you have to do is enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. It’s free and simple and with some options you can enter every day if you wish to increase your chances of winning. Entries open Tuesday 31st Oct 2017 at midday and close on Tuesday 14th November 2017 at midday. A winner will be selected at random using Rafflecopter shortly after. There are several ways to enter:

  • Comment: Leave a comment on this blog post giving us a your best tip for getting kids of any age more active. Tell us what works for you. Preferably something you can fit into an hour. Then enter via Rafflecopter with same email address used to comment so we can validate.
  • Follow: @familyonabike on Twitter. Leave your Twitter handle on the Rafflecopter widget so we can validate.
  • Share on Social Media: Share details of this post and giveaway on your social media Twitter account. Submit a link to the tweet you shared on the Rafflecopter widget below so we can validate your entry.

Do check the full terms and conditions below. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway Terms and Conditions

  1. Acceptance of Terms and Conditions: By taking part in this promotion, you agree to be bound by the giveaway rules and by the decisions of the Administrator and Promoter which are final in all matters relating to the giveaway. We reserve the right to disqualify any entrant and/or winner in our absolute discretion for any reason and without notice in accordance with the competition rules.
  2. Eligibility: This giveaway is open to all residents of the UK except employees of Reima or The Family Adventure Project and their families. No purchase is necessary to enter this competition. You must be 18+ to enter. Entries must be submitted by an individual, and, unless otherwise stated, are limited to one per person. Entries by Agencies or similar are not permitted. There is no charge for entry.
  3. Timing: The giveaway opens 00.01 Wednesday 1st November 2017 and will run until 23.59 Tuesday 14th November 2017. All entries must be received via Rafflecopter during the period in which the competition is open and late or incomplete entries will be disqualified. No responsibility can be accepted for entries which are lost, delayed, misdirected or corrupted during delivery to Rafflecopter for any reason whatsoever.
  4. Prize: There is one prize and there will be one winner receiving one Reima Regor/Roxana jacket* (RRP£115) and ReimaGO sensor £39.99. (*The promoter will endeavour to provide the pictured style of jacket in the size requested by the winner but if stocks are low, a product of a similar value will be substituted.) There is no cash alternatives for prizes. Any images are illustrative and do not necessarily exactly represent the exact contents of the prize.
  5. Winner: A winner will be selected at random shortly after the closing date using Rafflecopter. The winning entry will be checked to ensure it is valid and complies with entry requirements specified in the Rafflecopter entry widget. If the first drawn entry does not meet eligibility or entry requirements, a further entry will be drawn until a valid winner is drawn.
  6. Notification: The winner will be contacted via Twitter, Facebook or email. A reply is required within 7 days or a new winner may be chosen.
  7. Fulfilment: The prize will be delivered to the winner to their postal address in the UK. The Promoter, Reima is responsible for fulfilling the prize.
  8. Administration and Promotion: This giveaway is being administered by The Family Adventure Project, 1 Eastside, The Square, Burton in Kendal. The Promoter is Reima Finland who responsible for fulfilling the prize.
  9. Permissions: By entering this competition you agree that The Family Adventure Project and Reima may use your name and likeness to promote the competition and announce the winner via news channels, on websites and social media.
  10. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
Hiking up Skiddaw from Keswick, Cumbria

Hiking up Skiddaw from Keswick, Cumbria

Disclosure Note:  Reima compensated us for producing this post to help share their campaign. All hours clocked up on the ReimaGo sensor (three on the treasure hunt and many more over the last week) as well as the opinions and photography are, as ever, all our own.

About the author

Kirstie

Kirstie is the Editor of The Family Adventure Project. A professional writer and poet, she's the creative and journalistic force behind many of the stories and features published here. She's a co-founder and co-director of The Family Adventure Project and also works as the #poetinmotion producing and performing poetry for print, video and live performance.

120 Comments

  • Wrap up cosy and go out a walk, we are very lucky where we live, we have lots of Forrest walks and country tracks, At the moment we enjoy walking to collect leafs for out Autumn activities!

  • Find time every weekend to do something active with your children. Play frisbee or football in the park, go trampolining, or try indoor rock climbing.

  • We are lucky as pur local country park is within walking distance -massive adventure playground nature trails animals…..

  • Find a fun activity. Help your child find a sport that they enjoy. The more they enjoy the activity, the more likely they will continue it. Get the entire family involved. It’s a great way to spend time together.

  • This one is not for everyone! But! If you can afford it, emotionally have time for it, think about a dog! They add soooo much to any family!

  • Start them young! Make long, weekend walks a normal, regular thing. We are lucky to live near the Jurassic Coast so combine beach walks with fossil hunting which they love!

  • we acttually walk home from school every day it takes about 40 minutes and the kids love it because we play games like i spy and do races!

  • Geocaching! You can find geocaches anywhere, even in the middle of a city, and it’s so much fun tracking them down with your kids.

  • Joining local clubs, my children go to clubs for swimming, dancing, trampolining, gymnastics and lots of walks on the Downs and Beach

  • A scooter or bike is a great idea and then when they go out with their friends they don’t even realise they are exercising !

  • Get them to decide what to do always helps then that way they seem to want to do it more and also they then have more fun.

  • We have been hunting for snow dogs in Cardiff, it was really exciting for the kids and they loved seeing all of the cool designs. We have also done the local parks as there are metal panels around the parks that you can do crayon rubbings of.

  • My husband has always had a huge passion for travel and exploring. Our 6 year old daughter is just the same. So we are fortunate she loves to go travelling and is a little explorer. She has a sketch pad which she takes with her on her walks and travels. Really helps when you do things together as a family.

  • We try to get out every day for a walk with our 3 year old, he now has a balance bike which he loves going out and about on

  • My Grandchildren like to walk the dog,so if I feel they are not exercising enough,I take them somewhere a little more taxing,hills,
    rather than flat parks or woods.

  • We need to lead by example, so we need to get involved and show them how to be active. We have a large playing field behind our house and I try to take my daughter onto it, just to run around, chase and be silly.

  • The best way is to just always be active. Find an outdoor activity everyday – leaf collecting, puddle jumping, feeding ducks etc. Your kids will then find staying in days too boring and want to get out.

  • Make a potion! Get an empty glass jar, and go on a walk where they have to fill the jar with things. We’ve done a woodland potion, a beach potion, and a garden potion so far!! They get so excited running about collecting different things.

  • Taking the dog for a walk was always good. Apart from that we had trouble finding something she liked until she was a teen and she saw Rachel Brice belly dance, and that was it. Belly dancing and yoga ever since. She’s still dancing for pleasure and now studying to be a yoga teacher at 26.

  • Its so important to get kids out and about we ensure we walk daily but at the weekends the boys are expected to get out with us, they are also in footballs teams and encouraged to go to extra training. And as we live so remote if we go out for dinner we always walk to the nearest village its a great incentive x

  • We love walking down the river and back down the canal over the aqueduct – we see loads of wildlife and theres plenty of little pathways near the river to enjoy – it takes about 45 minutes and is great exercise xx

  • pretend all the man hole covers, water meter covers etc are special pads that make funy noises or make you jump really high

  • We do a family walk round our local racecourse and when we have finished walking round the racecourse my son is allowed to go and play in the park and have a snack which is normally a YOYO x

  • I think it’s a great idea if you participate in the exercise with your child whether it be sports, athletics, running, cycling, swimming or walking. You have to be able to set a good example and kids tend to get more from it if you make it a family adventure. x

  • Create a treasure hunt of things to find on a walk outside, such as pinecones, a yellow flower, a red leaf, a frog! Print out the pictures on a sheet and use it as motivation for young kids to have a purpose on a walk!

  • Go out on a short walk but make it into a scavenger hunt, give them a list of around 5 things to find and they’ll want to walk further to find them

  • make it lots of fun and do it as a family start it when they are young that way it will become the norm. x 😀 x

  • We’ve been using the Pokemon Go game on my son’s mobile phone to encourage him to go out walking with us. We all get some exercise and he gets to complete his Pokemon collection

  • We love Just Dance. Although it’s on a computer console they arent sitting on their bums they are moving and dancing around and having fun.

  • We like to take a magnifying glass out with us to collect leaves, plants, etc for our son to examine and then we look them up in books and online at home.

  • My girls dad is a scout leader so both my girls are in Beavers and Scouts and love to go camping, on hikes or just playing games on an indoor group night. They have made good friendships and skills for life.

  • My tip is for it to be something they enjoy or a challenge they can succeed in it will make them want to go out and try again if they feel accomplished 😀

  • Having a dog is a great way to keep kids active both in the garden and on walks. If they feel they are at least partially responsible for the dog’s wellbeing they will be very eager to help.

  • We have discovered a YouTube channel where it’s solely for kids yoga but it’s all fun so they don’t realise they are exercising and we also walk our dog a lot

  • Find unexplored territory and pretend it’s a brand new discovery, take a notepad and pencil and stop to drAw and detail the surroundings, find unusual items and name them as brand new discoveries! (Pinecone = dragons poo) give this place a name see how far you can go and use your imagination… being active doesn’t have to be sit ups and sprints have fun with it!!

  • We’ve made a larger scale of kids monopoly and have to move various ways around the board and do different actions depending on what colour we land on. Lots of fun, giggling and movement

  • Get them out and about from an early age. Encourage outdoor play – I’m yet to find a child who doesn’t like throw & catch, or tag or just rolling down hills!

  • i take my toddler twins for daily walks and at weekends we go to the park, i always tell them we are going for picnics then they are so excited. i always pack corn on the cob, some fruits and water.

  • we go on treasure hunts to the seaside and woods collecting bits n bobs like shells, cones leaves etc, then they use them for craft work when its raining

  • My kids love nature and art so we combine it, going for long woodland walks and collecting leaf & bark rubbings, taking photos of landscape to draw later and my little boy loves maps so he is always the navigator. They’re always so excited to go out on an adventure

  • Getting a dog was the single biggest thing that got my lot moving this year. They are not so keen to walk her now the novelty has worn off, but understand that they still have to for her wellbeing.

  • I try to turn everything into an adventure. We have joined the ‘Derbyshire Rocks’ group where we paint and hide rocks and find others that other people have hidden in our local area.

  • We walk to and home from school, there is a little park on the way home too that they play on, easily adds up to an hour a day

  • We enjoy going for a walk around the local reservoir and walking up the steep parts of the woodland and bring a picnic with us x

  • Our kids are involved in a few weekend and after school clubs, they do swimming lessons on a Saturday, cubs and beavers on a Tuesday and my daughter does gymnastics on a wednesday, all three of them clubs are really cheap too, nowhere near as expensive as I thought

  • When my kids werelittle and I was struggling financially we used to go on long countryside walks for a day out . I’d make an ‘ I Spy ‘ list of things to spot and tick off . IE ‘ an ambulance ‘ ‘ a red flower ‘ . When we’d ticked them all off we would stop for a picnic treat . Hours of fun .

  • We have always included outdoor fun in our routine which in turn has rubbed off on the kids. They have all the latest tech but enjoy long walks in the local forest and I make a scavenger hunt for the younger two which they really like as it gets them involved and they take a lot of pride in ticking everything off the list (for younger ones that can’t read yet pictures are good enough too, if you can’t draw just cut pictures out of magazines or print them off from the internet).

  • Opening all the windows. The extra air and outdoors sounds (and cold, at this time of year!) help a lot with getting people energised and ready to move about, whatever you’re doing; this works really well for adults, too.

  • lots of walking with the dogs
    we are lucky to live close to some lovely parks
    and we get to walk them all the time
    its important to get them away from the tv and computers

  • We take part in lots of outdoor activities because we are lucky enough to live in Brighton so we have all the excitement that that brings with the seafront 🙂

  • Geocaching..and bug/treasure hunts. I am a youth ambassador for wwf and so they seem to like the promise of getting a badge ..so carrot and a stick. Does help youngest loves being outdoors!

  • We go a nature walk either along our local canal or into the woods. Whilst we do this there’s normally a fair bit of Pokémon hunting on the go to

  • Keeping activities fun and lots of interactive things to do along the way and when you get there. We love to walk or cycle to our local duck pond and the kids love saving up and drying out crusts for the ducks and making bird feeders to take with us. We look for pinecones and things to take back to make more feeders.

  • I found growing our own has really got us out in the garden more and can be really physical. More so than we thought! My 7 year old daughter loves picking our own peas from the pods and collecting in the strawberries. We cant wait to go bigger and better next year!

  • Make it fun and interesting and always Positive. I take my grandchildren out into my veggie patch even at 2yrs old and get them to get stuck in!

  • we started roller skating – its loads of fun and both H and D really enjoy it – I am learning to play roller derby and they are learning the basics of how to skate – sessions are £2.50 at a local youth centre with music and on hand coaches to help out for the kids

  • We got for woodland walks often. Half an hour to an hour. The kids love it as they collect sticks ect to make a journey stick

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We're Kirstie & Stuart. We share an adventurous spirit, a passion for indie travel and 3 kids. The Family Adventure Project is our long term experiment in doing active, adventurous things together. Find out more...

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