Ideas for your school newsletter

Help parents to better appreciate and support the physical activity efforts of your school and their children by including some of these fitness facts and ideas into your newsletters home.

Children of all ages benefit from both:-

  1. Small bouts of regular physical exercise i.e. moving every 20 – 45 minutes of sitting/sedentary time.
  2. Achieving a total of 60 minutes or more of moderate to vigorous physical exercise each day.

Achieving one of these does not provide the benefits of achieving the other for example, if your child plays a game of netball for an hour on a Saturday morning they will have their achieved one hour of moderate to physical activity, but if they child spend the rest of the day not moving from their computer they will still be impacted from sitting for too long.

Equally importantly know that the 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise each day can be made up of small chunks, for example 6 x 10 minute efforts.

10 benefits of exercising:-

In addition to the obvious benefits of improving health and fitness levels.

  1. Improves short-term memory
  2. Faster reaction times
  3. Higher levels of creativity
  4. Improves mood
  5. Improves attention
  6. Improves information processing, storage, and retrieval
  7. Enhances coping mechanisms
  8. Reduces cravings
  9. Reduces pain from and likelihood of postural issues
  10. Improves self esteem, confidence and body image

Importantly, these benefits often happen immediately, increase long term, and lead to even greater benefits around health and fitness levels.

10 steps parents can take to help their kids move more

  1. Set timers to go off for every 30 minutes of sitting/sedentary time with the aim to do 30 second exercise bouts or longer when they do.
  2. Turn mini exercise ’bouts’ into games and challenges.  How many push ups can you all do in their 30 second break, can they/you get around the outside of the house or into every room in the house  in just 30 seconds etc.
  3. Remind kids of how much better they will feel in ways that are important to them, for example, if they are struggling to fall asleep at night it will help them to fall asleep easier. Check out the list of exercise benefits to find ones that your child will relate to.
  4. When they finish their mini exercise breaks, or other activities ask them to describe how they feel.  At the end of the day/weekend or week ask them again about what benefits they are feeling from doing the physical activities and also what challenges they are having with them. This will help the habit to stick and ensure any barriers are broken down early on.
  5. Go for regular walks as a family after dinner.
  6. Give fitness gifts for kids like swimming goggles, a skateboard, boogie board, tennis racquet etc
  7. Use birthdays as an excuse to book into an active event like laser strike, bowling or archery or to hold parties at a park with egg and spoon races, chasey, treasure hunts etc.
  8. Lead by example.  Join them when they do their mini exercise breaks to reduce sitting time.  Make the most of incidental exercise opportunities i.e. take the stairs instead of the elevator/escalator, park further from the shops, carry the supermarket shopping bags to the car instead of using a shopping trolley.  If you don’t get involved the stats show your kids are unlikely to as well.
  9. Once a month try a new physical activity together as a family.
  10. Watch a health and fitness documentary together as a family once a month.  If you’re not sure where to start try The Michael Mosley shows, Trust Me I’m A Doctor series as well as Jamie Oliver’s ‘ Teach Every Child About Food’ or do a search on the TEDtalks website.

10 new physical activity initiatives worth announcing

If you are looking for ideas when it comes to physical activity options at your school then here’s a few, hopefully some of which are new for you or give rise to some new ones.

Many of these are likely to appeal to parents who have less active students but who are wanting them to be more active and as such, are all worth announcing in your school newsletter.

For starters,  inviting parents to submit their barriers and concerns around the physical activity options at your school/schools generally via a simple online anonymous survey, preferably at the start of the year, can be very helpful.   Include an option for them to make physical activity suggestions and to put their hand up if they are keen to help out with any of them.  Bets on you will find mention of lots of little things that are easy to cater for.  Share the results and refer back to them whenever you roll out initiatives which address those barriers or utilize their suggestions.

Now for a few ideas.

  1. Offer strength training sessions which don’t have running or jogging in them.  Bigger kids who are shying away from activities and sports with running in them, as well as kids with poor cardio fitness or exercise induced asthma, may well love this option.  Plus, it will help meet recommendations for kids to be doing strengthening activities three times a week. There’s a 100 different ways you can run fun strength sessions for all abilities and acknowledge each student for their achievements and all without the need for much equipment.
  2. Provide self defence courses and/or boxing and martial arts.  Recently I spoke to a Doctor who was bullied when he was young and who told me that learning how to box at school took away his fear and while he’s never had to use it in self defence, to this day he says it has made him walk taller and feel more confident.  I’ve heard woman say similar things in relation to the self defence courses they have done.
  3. Initiate a micro break programme to use when students are seated for a long periods of time. It’s something virtually everyone knows everyone should be doing and providing it is minimally disruptive you’re bound to get some applause for instituting this one.
  4. Set up a few rotating standing desks in classrooms, or standing desk options in study areas.
  5. Offer one off introductory taster sessions of new activities once a term. Where possible, utilize local activity providers to help run them.
  6. Introduce indigenous activities  games, sport or dance ideally delivered in person by local indigenous providers but if that’s not an option check out the online resources available.
  7. Introduce physical activities from other cultures from cultures represented by students at your school.  Aim to have a local provider deliver but otherwise there are some great online resources and video options.
  8. Offer social versions of traditional sports.  It might be that these versions are significantly shorter in duration and may not require a uniform.  Positions are drawn out of the hat each game and if there are too many players, anyone who has to sit on the bench are only there for a pre-set time of say 3 minutes before rotating with the other players so that everyone gets time on the bench and the kids end up playing an array of positions.
  9. Start each morning with a few exercises.  Come up with a simple routine of say four or five easy to remember exercises/moves that are done at assembly and/or in classes to kick start the day, every day.  You want them to be useful, appropriate to the time of day and achievable by everyone so it’s important to have your PE teacher design these or get a hold of us at Catch Fitness for ideas.
  10. Have a local ‘adventurer’ come in for a chat. So this one is not exactly a physical activity in itself but there’s nothing better than an inspiring story to get you moving. Maybe you have in someone who has sailed solo around the world, biked across continents, climbed mountains, swum channels, walked long trails, dived ship wrecks, cross country skied through the Arctic etc.  Put a call out among parents and teachers as there’s bound to be a few interesting adventurers among them.