Ex-European champion runner Jo Pavey's tips for keeping kids active in lockdown

Jo Pavey and her children exercise in their garden

MOTHER-of -two, former European 10,000 metre champion Jo Pavey (46) says keeping kids active is crucial during lockdown. Here are her tips:

1 Do it as a family: "I think with this lockdown, we all realise how beneficial keeping active is, and family bonding is really important as well,” Pavey says.

She has teemed up with Fit For Sport to launch the ‘Activity Challenge' – 10 minutes of exercise at 10am every Monday. There are three exercises – star jumps, bouncing and catching a ball and six-metre shuttle runs ( Scores can be recorded on the website and you're awarded a bronze, silver or gold for your efforts.

2 Make it fun: “You need exercise to be a positive experience, rather than something you're pushing them to do. I did a ladder-running challenge with my children; I made a ladder out of an old bamboo cane and practised doing running-type drills over in. But it doesn't have to be formal exercise, it can be a simple game of tag or stuck in the mud, or throwing and catching, bat and ball – anything to get hand-eye coordination going. For a really young child they could jump around like a frog or a kangaroo!”

3 Set an example: “As a parent it's a challenging time, but being active yourself, you get the opportunity to be a good role model to your children, by keeping fit yourself and also by engaging with your children. Show how much you enjoy it.”

4 Do it for their mental health: “I notice how the kids feel happier, they enjoy that it gives them a bit of a buzz and even with the pressures we all have now of trying to home school, it definitely makes it easier for them to concentrate. I feel like they're more ready [to do school work] when they've been out and done some activity. You can tell it keeps them feeling better about themselves and feeling good.”

5 Be positive: "How children experience exercise at a young age can have a lifelong impact on how they feel about it as an adult. When they're showing enthusiasm, give them praise, even if they're not doing it fantastically. Never criticise, and hopefully they can take those positive feelings with them as they grow and develop, and keep that healthy lifestyle going.

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access