Encouraging your children to be active in the New Year
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Encouraging your children to be active in the New Year

Kids glued to their device screen? Take a look at our tips for getting them more active in 2017!

Remember when being young was about exploring the space around you, rather than the space of a tablet or smartphone screen? They were simpler times back then when a group of kids could take off on a camping adventure, following the train tracks through the countryside to find adventure, but a recent article on the state of children in the UAE has found that only one in five are physically active for more than an hour a day.

In 2005 only 20% of children in the UAE took part in physical activity for an hour or more; five years later that figure had dropped to 17%, alarming health experts. It’s still a global challenge, but experts are saying that the reason for the UAE not ranking high in terms of child activity is that physical activity is not a cultural norm as it is in countries like Slovenia, Denmark and the Netherlands.

So how can you help encourage your children to be more active in 2017? We’ve got a few tips for helping your kids expend all that excess energy they have yet to lose with age.

Join a sports club

Playing sport is a simple, effective way to get your child active; as well as teaching them some valuable life lessons about competition, teamwork and goal setting. Kids in the UAE have the opportunity to play a lot of traditional sports such as football, basketball and gymnastics, while there are more adventurous options available such as kayaking, rugby and karate.

There are sports for children of all ages and abilities in the UAE and choosing an activity you should answer a few questions beforehand:

  • Is your child interested in the sport?
    Obviously a child that does not like a sport is unlikely to gain much enjoyment from it, but take the time to explore a number of options with your child. It might be that they never knew they were interested in tennis before, or that the idea of playing ice hockey was more appealing that the practice. Talk about sport with your child to make sure you’re not pushing them into something they’re not keen on.

  • How much will it cost?
    Some sports need little more than a sturdy pair of shoes and some exercise appropriate clothing while some, like an equestrian club, might run into some very high expenses. Beyond financial commitment, there’s also the time you spend at practice and during games and events that can build up. Be clear with your child the level of financial and time commitments that is acceptable to you both prior to choosing a sport.

  • Is the sport a good fit for your child?
    Thinking about your child’s personality is just as important when thinking about sport. Does your child thrive in collaborative settings, or do they enjoy the challenge of competing alone? Even in team sports there are opportunities for more individual competitors to influence the outcome, while more solo sports like golf still have an aspect of teamwork to them. Help your child find the right fit by guiding them towards activities that suit their personality.

  • Support winning and losing
    Remember that part of the reason for taking up a sport is for the physical and personal development of your child, as much as it can be about success and winning. Support your child in their journey with the sport responsibly by teaching them the valuable lesson of losing, and give them the confidence to do better next time.

For many countries, taking part in a sports club is part of growing up and helping children in the UAE value the experience can be a step in a healthier direction for them.

Join an activity group

For those not that interested in sports, there are still some outdoor activities that can get them out and about while learning valuable skills. Those with a keen balance and a taste for fresh sea air can join a yacht club, children with an avid interest in marine life can try diving, or there are a number of fitness programs that can teach young toddlers about how to move their bodies.

Orienteering groups are also possible in the UAE, and can provide young people with not only physical exercise but the opportunity to learn a number of map reading and outdoor survival skills. Children can have their mental limits challenged as well as their physical abilities in either solo or group activities. Success in these challenges can be give a massive boost to your child’s confidence to be independent and self reliant.

Spend your family time outside

The UAE is full of wondrous urban cities and man-made structures, but there’s still plenty of natural beauty to be experienced. Instead of watching a movie at the cinema, why not consider a family hike around the mountains or deserts? There are plenty of historical ancestral villages to be explored, or the four canyons to be traversed. Just remember: take only memories, leave only footprints.

If you have young children, or they’re not quite ready for a physically challenging family experience, the UAE is home to a number of great picnic spots and public parks. Load up the picnic basket on a Sunday, grab a frisbee or a ball, and head on down to Zabeel Park in Dubai or the Umm Al Emarat Park in Abu Dhabi. Instilling the value of physical activity in your children but joining them is one of the best ways for both of you to keep fit.

Staying safe and active

While you’re busy thinking about how to keep your children active in 2017, why not also take the time to check on their health insurance coverage? Most insurers and brokers will remind you when it comes time to renew your policy, but taking up a new activity might be cause to consider if your policy will provide them with the right coverage.

We know that all sports and outdoor activities come with a varying risk of injury. Before signing up to a new hobby, make sure that your insurance will cover any injuries or accidents that arise from taking part in your child’s new activity. If it won’t or you’re not sure, feel free to give our advisors at United Arab Emirates Medical Insurance a call. Their years of experience can ensure that you and your family are covered, no matter what activity you choose!



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