According to DCU's Head of the School of Health and Human Performance, Professor Niall Moyna, it's extremely important that children are active. "They develop many of their health behaviours at a young age. For both physical and mental health reasons, it's important kids get 60 minutes of vigorous activity a day," he says.
Prof Moyna says not every family has the same environment and there's no one-size-fits-all approach to getting kids out and about and active, but he says with a bit of planning on the part of parents, you can ensure you all stay fit and healthy.
Giving kids variety and making things enjoyable is paramount, according to Prof Moyna. "It's going to take a bit of pre-planning but I think it's worth the effort. It's not rocket science. It's the environment and the culture you create in the home.
"Parents underappreciate the influence they have on their children. Try things like having a skipping competition or if you're in a group of parents, take a day each and have the kids for a couple of hours with different parents coming up with different activities," he says.
■ Keep your Gaelic skills up
With TG4 running Kellogg's GAA Cúl Camps TV programme every morning for those who aren't attending the actual camps, there's an opportunity for kids to focus on drills, skills and games by tuning in. Former Donegal footballer Kevin Cassidy is one of the stars showing children how they can keep their skills up and he says there are lots of activities children can do in the garden.
"You don't need any goals and if you don't have cones just use some household items. You're not going to be outside doing a full hour because it's hard to engage kids for an hour. Take 10 minutes and focus on a skill - just make it enjoyable," says Kevin, who lives in Gaoth Dobhar with his wife Sarah and children, twins Nia and Aoife (9) and son Fionn (5).
"The idea is you're trying not to push them too far so they turn against it. If you have a ball, get them to kick it against a wall so it rebounds. Tell them if they do so many they'll get a reward. Fionn loves being pushed on the swing so that's his reward," says Kevin.
"If they have a brother or sister, they can practice kick pass to each other. With a strip of lawn, put a few markers down 10 metres apart and practice soloing. Solo to the first marker, then bounce to the second, then turn and come back. A lot of people might be put off and think 'I don't know what I'm doing'. Don't worry - just get them to do simple things like throw the ball into the air and see how many claps they can do before the ball falls down," he says.
⬤ See gaa.ie/my-gaa/getting-involved/kids-activities for more
■ Mini Olympics & Circuit Training
Dublin-based PE teacher Emma Cassidy says a great idea for all the family to get active is to have a circuit of exercises that can be done outside or inside. She advises parents to pick seven or eight exercises like high-knees, sit-ups, jumping jacks and mountain climber, for example, and give each one a number. Using a dice, you roll the dice to see what number comes up and then all the family do the same exercise.
Emma says you can time the exercises using your phone's stopwatch or just do a certain number of repetitions of the exercise. "With something like the fitness circuit, I say always do a warm up and a cool down. Before you start, demonstrate each of the exercises. Too many exercises can be confusing so stick to seven or eight. Having music playing is great for motivation," says Emma, who teaches at Manor House girls school in Raheny, Dublin.
She devised the Mini Olympics especially for Health & Living and believes this is something that even younger children can engage with. By assigning each child a country and drawing the flag of each country, arts and crafts can be incorporated into the event, which can also include an opening ceremony.
"In terms of events, this is all about using stuff you have at home. If you don't have a Frisbee, use paper plates for a discus. You could do relay races and have jumping competitions or a penalty shoot-out. You could devise an obstacle course using items that are safe. You could even have a competition where you bounce a ball and count how many times you can bounce it," says Emma.
"Have a big score board where you allocate points and at the end have a medal ceremony. You could even make the medals and present them. You could run this over the course of a week with a few activities each day and on the last day have a big ceremony," she says.
As you build confidence from your Daily Mile (see above), adventurer Pat Falvey says parents can organise trips to national parks or walking trails to get kids out and about. He says this might only be a weekend activity but they could add their miles up at the end of the week.
"It's about moving and getting out into nature. In every county there are ways and trails within a half hour's drive of people's homes. The whole thing is to get kids in the habit of it," says Pat, who leads people on expeditions to Mount Everest.
Parents can also use the time to introduce children to simple map-reading skills. "People are used to the discipline of a summer camp but doing things like going into the woods or into a national park alters their environment and forms a habit," he says.
⬤ For more information, see coillte.ie and ireland.com.
You don't need lots of space to incorporate athletics into your kids' activities. According to Paul Murphy, who runs sports camps for Athletics Ireland, different throwing games are a great way to build kids' confidence and improve their hand/eye co-ordination.
Simple games like throwing tennis balls against a wall and catching them, or throwing a ball into the air and catching it, are good for young kids to practice.
Older kids will love making an agility ladder out of sticks. He says that all you have to do is lay the sticks out on the ground and then jump or run with two feet between each rung or one foot in each rung.
If you have space, he says family relay races are a great way to introduce a competitive element.
Paul says the possibilities are endless and parents can go to the website of Athletics Ireland for more tips and ideas on getting kids doing activities at home.
⬤ See athleticsireland.ie for more ideas.
Former national coach Niamh Dwyer says you don't even need to have a hoop in your back yard to get kids working on basketball drills.
"Some kids are confident to dribble the ball with their right hand but not so confident on the left. You could encourage them to dribble on the left while throwing a tennis ball up in the air and catching it with the right," she says.
Niamh explains that practising and building up skills is all about building confidence. "If you have two basketballs, try dribbling with the two balls. Try going for different heights and different speeds - that will be more advanced," she says.
Basketball Ireland has lots of skills sessions on its website which can be a useful resource for parents to find tips.
⬤ See basketballireland.ie for more.
■ Sports Day at home
With the annual school sports day cancelled this year, Sport Ireland designated June 28 as National BeActive Day, producing a leaflet full of activities for children. These activities can be replicated into a mini sports day at home.
The six exercises are simple and easy to do and require minimal equipment. There's catch and clap, where you throw a ball into the air, counting how many times you can clap before catching it.
There's a balance exercise where you balance an object like an apple on your head while walking. There's target throwing of objects into saucepans, an old-fashioned egg and spoon race, a weaving ball - where you weave a ball around objects on the ground - and finally an obstacle course.
⬤ The plan is available on Sport Ireland's website at sportireland.ie/participation/national-beactive-day
THE DAILY MILE
While almost 1,000 schools around the country have adopted the Daily Mile - where the whole school walks or runs a mile every day - it can be incorporated into the family routine. Daily Mile ambassador Frank Greally says it's a great way for families to stay fit together and get out and about as a family.
"Continuity is important. Parents have welcomed our efforts with open arms," says Frank.
⬤ See thedailymile.ie