Ministry of Health Singapore. All Rights Reserved.
Exercise is important for kids. Let your kids play sports, have fun at the playground or just enjoy some fun activity games outdoors.
As kids grow, they start to spend less time playing sports and more time being deskbound or playing with electronic gaming devices. Very often, the lure of indoor activities such as watching TV beats sweating it out in our hot and humid climate. And before you know it, a sedentary lifestyle sets in and regular exercise is no longer part of their regular routine.
So the next time your little one bugs you for outdoor playtime, get moving before he decides that sitting with the iPad or your smartphone is more fun than running under the sun! Here are some activities you can do with your kids to keep everyone active:
Kids love playgrounds. Fortunately for mum and dad, our estates and parks are dotted with playgrounds big and small. Outdoor playgrounds in Singapore are often equipped with different modules for children to climb, slide, crawl and balance, which are good for their gross motor skills.
Best of all, they are free. Plus, there are so many of them across the island, kids can never get bored at any of them. You can plan a special playground trip to the iconic Toa Payoh dragon playground, the tilted train structure in Tiong Bahru Park or the interesting climbing structures in Woodlands Waterfront Park and Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park, as well as the battleship playground in Sembawang Park. For the fun to last longer, let your kids explore the huge adventure playground areas in Pasir Ris Park and West Coast Park.
If you feel adventurous on any day, simply whip out your map and bring the kids on a playground hunting trip around your neighbourhood and beyond.
Related: Playground Safety: Fun Without Tears
Little kids have endless fun getting wet. There are many water play areas where kids can soak up all the fun for free. A hot, new favourite is the Children’s Garden (Gardens by the Bay) which has water features for different age groups. Or head down to the Marina Barrage where kids (and adults too!) can wade into the water and get sprayed by the fountains.
Don’t forget to pack the kids’ swimwear when you next go shopping. Many shopping malls, such as IMM, Kallang Wave Mall, NEX, and Changi City Point, have water play areas to keep children happy while mum and dad shop.
There are more than 300 parks and public gardens in tiny Singapore. From cosy neighbourhood parks with playgrounds and running tracks to national parks such as Gardens by the Bay and the Botanical Gardens, there is no lack of green space for those of us who want to exercise and get the heart rate up and going.
For a fun outing, pack your picnic basket and visit the Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden, or take a walk around Fort Canning Park to learn more about Singapore’s heritage trees. Keen for a more rustic experience? Consider bird-watching at Lorong Halus Wetland or Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve. Are your kids getting bored with repeated visits? No problem, just venture to a different park each weekend. There’s bound to be something new at each one to keep their interests alive.
Related: Outdoor Play
If you have a morning or evening to spare, why not bring out the toy pails and shovels and head for the beach? Kids can spend a long time engaged in sand play with simple tools and seawater while exercising their muscles.
Besides East Coast Park and Sentosa, the beaches at Changi Beach Park and Pasir Ris Park are also popular with families. A hidden gem is the Lazarus Island beach to the south of Singapore. Take a ferry to St John’s island and hop over to the island for a nice surprise.
Another easy way to keep kids moving and get plenty of physical activity is to take them for a walk around the neighbourhood. There are discoveries to be made everywhere, waiting to be unearthed by the sharp eyes and curious minds of your little companions. Or turn it into a game of scavenger hunt to make it more fun.
On a long weekend, how about making a trip to the Jurong Bird Park, Singapore Zoo or the farms in the Kranji area? You can also beat the crowd and visit less well-known venues such as the Live Turtle and Tortoise Museum in the Chinese Garden or the Jurong Frog Farm where kids get to feed frogs. Visiting a place of interest is a good walking exercise in disguise.
Although young children may not have the stamina to go for long hikes, they can still enjoy nature walks. For example, you don’t have to conquer the 10km trail of the Southern Ridges at one go. Choose a section each time and bring some healthy snacks for the kids to keep them going.
Alternatively, start with the relatively easier coastal boardwalks at Changi Point or the Labrador Nature Reserve. When the kids can go further, try the longer paths at places such as Coney Island or Bukit Timah Nature Reserve.
Many games can be played outdoors. Give young children a ball and an open space and they pretty much take care of the rest. Even a simple bubble-blowing kit can keep them entertained (and moving) for a long time. For greater fun, you can round up a few kids and let them play catch, hide-and-seek or Captain’s Ball. Playmates always make fun (and exercise) last longer.
You can also revisit your childhood by teaching your children to play old-time outdoor games such as zero point, hopscotch and throwing paper aeroplanes. These simple games keep the children active and hone their movement skills like jumping and running.
Related: Want Smart Kids? Involve Them in Active Play
Sports help to improve kids’ fundamental movement skills such as catching, throwing, jumping and running, all of which are important for a child’s physical development. Here are some ways you can introduce your pre-schooler to sports:
Swimming is a sport that kids of all ages can enjoy and have excellent health benefits. It is a full-body workout that makes children stronger and builds up their stamina. Many swimming complexes offer swimming classes to children from six years old, while other classes provide lessons for babies and toddlers to increase their water comfort level.
Children as young as two to three can learn to ride a tricycle and a scooter, and it helps to improve their balance. Make sure to suit them up with proper protection gear and teach them the safe way to move on wheels. By the age of six or seven, some kids can start cycling, inline skating, skateboarding, wave boarding or even ice-skating!
Taking part in ball games can specifically improve the fundamental movement skills of catching, throwing and kicking for children. Toddlers love chasing after bouncing and rolling balls. As soon as kids can follow game rules and engage in group play, they can pick up ball games such as Captain’s Ball and kids’ floorball. The older ones can take part in kids’ soccer or basketball.
Related: Let’s All Move It, Move It!
To improve your kids’ dexterity and coordination, consider signing them up for dance, wushu, gymnastics or even Zumba and yoga classes. Your kids can also join you in aerobic exercises at Sundays @ the Park for a great family workout.
Related: Make Fitness Fun for your Kids
On stormy days or days when you feel like taking shelter from the sun, kids can still be active indoors by playing games such as hide-and-seek and scavenger hunt at home. Just be sure to keep them safe from sharp corners and obstacles. Play some music and encourage them to dance to the beat. Or pass them the broom and mop to help out with some housework!
You can also arrange a playdate at indoor playgrounds where kids can have fun climbing and running while adults catch up over coffee. Indoor places of interest allow kids to learn, play and get active, for example, the Central Fire Station Heritage Centre where kids can don firemen suits and “fight fires”. Even mall walking can be a good exercise for children (and parents!).
Related: 10 Fun Ways to Get Active
Take the lead and encourage your kids to be active every day. It is healthy, good for their eyesight and keeps them in good shape. Make regular exercise and physical activities part of your lifestyle so that your children grow up into active, healthy adults.
Let’s get the kids moving!
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This article was last reviewed on
Tuesday, January 14, 2020
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Ministry of Health Singapore. All Rights Reserved.