13 physical activities for your children to keep them fit over summer holidays

The challenges of the past few years have reinforced the importance of staying fit and healthy, and lately many of us have been trying to be more focused on improving our own physical and mental wellbeing, and that of our families.

We want to help every member of our community nurture the best version of themselves, and become happier and healthier than ever before.

So, we decided to create our own dedicated health and wellness initiatives, with each one designed to inspire you to form healthy new habits, get fitter, boost your immune system and change your lifestyle for the better.

Indeed, one of our latest social media campaigns asked our community to share examples of the healthy habits they aim to follow every day, and we were so inspired by all the creative and beneficial efforts you make to stay active in body and mind.

However, we all know that our habits, likes and dislikes are heavily affected by how we spent time as a child and what our role models are doing around us.

Building on our recent blog about healthy habits for kids, we’ve decided to take a deeper look at the benefits of physical activity for children, and suggest some of the best sports and activities that they could try this summer.

What are the benefits of physical activity for children?

Physical activity has countless health benefits for children.

This includes:

  • Stronger bones, muscles, hearts and lungs
  • Better coordination, balance, posture and flexibility
  • Helps with maintaining a healthy weight
  • Reduces the risks of getting heart
  • disease, cancer and type-2 diabetes later in life

It also brings many benefits for children’s mental health.

Active children are more likely to:

  • Develop confidence
  • Sleep better
  • Be able to concentrate more thoroughly at school
  • Get along with others from different backgrounds and make lots of friends
  • Learn to share, take turns and cooperate.

Generally, physical activity is an important part of play and learning. Doing sports and activities together can also be a great way to bond with your little ones and grow closer together as a family.

How much exercise should a child engage in?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the following amounts of physical activity are recommended for children:

  • Infants under the age of one should be physically active several times a day
  • Children under five should aim to do 180 minutes of physical activity per day
  • Children and adolescents aged five to 17 should aim to do at least 60 minutes of moderate to high-intensity physical activity, three days a week

How do you make exercise fun for kids?

Be a great role model

Firstly, you need to remember that you are your kids’ greatest role model, so you need to lead by example. If your children see you being excited by exercise and enjoying it, then they are more likely to think of it as fun too. You need to show them that keeping fit isn’t a chore, but a fun and exciting part of a healthy lifestyle.

In addition, you could introduce them some of our encouraging social media posts about exercise, including the ones that detail how other adults and children have improved their lives by taking part in regular exercise. We also discuss the issues surrounding body positivity and, as a parent, it’s your responsibily to lead by example and each your children to respect and look after their bodies.

Make it feel like a game

Think of ways of turning exercise into games and activities. After all, little ones are unlikely to enjoy doing a full workout class or running for miles on end.  Instead, encourage them to try new sports and join local teams that focus on the ones they enjoy, or encourage physical games such as hide and seek and chase instead of static computer games. Even everyday like activities like walking the dog or playing ping-pong count as exercise, so as long as they are up on their feet, moving about and having fun, you have nothing to worry about.

Invite their friends

Inviting your children’s friends round to play can often result in spontaneous bursts of physical exercise, make it easier to play team sports and increase the enjoyment your kids get out of being active.

Indoor soft play areas or indoor trampoline parks are a great way of burning off energy safely in the summer months, while during the winter getting together with other kids in parks or outdoor areas will naturally encourage active play.

What are some of the must try water activities for kids?

When the weather starts to heat up in the UAE summer, water sports and activities provide a way of helping your kids keep their cool and spend more time outside in the fresh air.

Some safe and fun water activities for children of all ages include:

  1. Stand up paddleboarding

Whether just sitting along for the ride while you paddle, or having a go themselves, stand-up paddleboarding is a great full-body workout and you can rent boards from various places across Abu Dhabi.

  1. Kayaking

Depending on their age, children can again join you in a kayak or have a go on their own. It’s a great arm workout and a way of exploring the region’s amazing natural beauty.

  1. Swimming

The most obvious water activity of all, Abu Dhabi is blessed with numerous gorgeous public beaches and outdoor and indoor pools where little ones can splash and swim safely.

What are some of the enjoyable physical indoor activities that children can try in Abu Dhabi this summer?

Abu Dhabi is well kitted out to keep children of all ages active and engaged throughout the summer months and when it’s too hot to spend lots of time outdoors.

Some ideas for indoor summer activities include:

  1. Soft play parks – including Fun Works at Yas Mall, Fun City in Abu Dhabi Mall, Dalma Mall and other locations, and Orange Wheels in Al Wahda Mall and Al Raha Mall
  2. Trampoline parks – including BOUNCE Abu Dhabi in Marina Mall and Xtreme Zone Abu Dhabi Mall, The Galleria Mall Abu Dhabi and other locations
  3. Football – including on the indoor pitches at Erth Abu Dhabi
  4. Ice skating at Zayed Sports City
  5. Swimming in the city’s many indoor and outdoor pools including the Bayshore Beach Club at the Intercontinental Abu Dhabi
  6. Padel at ACTIVE on Al Maryah Island and at Zayed Sports City
  7. Table tennis in the Bowling Centre or ice rink at Zayed Sports City
  8. Air hockey – including the ultra-exciting Storm Air Hockey at Magic Planet in Marina Mall
  9. CLYMB climbing wall on Yas Island
  10. Escape rooms such as Prison Island in Abu Dhabi Mall

Visit our health and wellness initiative page for more physical activities and tips about how to keep your whole family active, happy and healthy.