20 steps to a healthier you with GloHealth - Step 4: Starting Young

Getting the whole family involved in regular physical activity is a great way to encourage children to be healthy and active from a very early age.

There are several good reasons why parents should make the effort - regular physical activity helps to build and maintain healthy bones and muscles.

Being active also promotes psychological well-being and may even help improve students' academic performance - so parents should make physical activity a lifelong, daily habit and promote an active lifestyle for their children from the early years, says Olivia Leonard, Chief Executive of The Little Gym Ireland.

The best way to do this, she says, is by making activity fun. “At The Little Gym we know that it's important to keep the emphasis on success, not winning; and on fun, not fitness. If children are having fun as they tumble, run and play, then healthy habits will follow.

“There are lots of fun activities parents can do with their young children to get them active.” Try simple games like egg-and-spoon races, playing catch, hopscotch or relays, she suggests.

“Often parents ask what they can do with their two-year-olds and at The Little Gym we recommend getting down to their level and playing with them on the floor.

“We often use balloons instead of balls to improve their eye to hand co-ordination as the balloon moves at a much slower pace which gives the child a much better success rate of making contact with the balloon.” One of the most important things a parent can do is lead by example, says Leonard.

“Young children learn so much through observation and will mimic what their parents do. So if you want your child to learn to kick a ball or jump on two feet, get involved and start to do it with them.”

It’s a good idea to over-exaggerate your movements so that your child can easily learn from you, she says.

“The instructors at The Little Gym always demonstrate any new skill in slow motion for the younger children and break down each part of the movement so that the children can quickly learn,” says Leonard.

Kids under the age of three are free and kids aged three are half price on our Better and Best plans. With GloHealth you get a contribution towards the Little Gym when you choose the Family & Kids’ Health package.

These healthy tips have been brought to you by GloHealth - health insurance tailored to your family’s needs.

GloHealth offers a range of health insurance options for all the family. Click here for more.


Lifestyle

Gerry Fitzgerald runs Bandon Books Plus in Riverview Shopping Centre, Bandon, Co Cork.We Sell Books: Turning over a new leaf from bank to bookshop in Bandon

As UK legend John Surman gets ready to play at Cork’s jazz fest, he tells Philip Watson about his well-travelled career and why he’s so angry about Brexit.Jazz legend John Surman on a well-travelled career and why he's angry about Brexit

Dr Naomi Lavelle answers a weekly science question.Fish live in water all their lives but does that mean that they never get thirsty or do they even drink at all? To answer these questions we need to look at where the fish live.Appliance of Science: Do fish ever get thirsty?

More From The Irish Examiner