What are the benefits of children participating in adventure activities?

Obesity amongst children in the UK is a problem in the UK at the moment, with 25% of boys and 33% of girls aged 2 – 19 being overweight or obese. Being overweight at a young age creates higher chances of heart disease, high blood pressure, psychological difficulties and diabetes in later life (statistics from dietician, Juliette Kellow BSc RD).

We have a wide range of activities and opportunities at Valley Leisure for children and families to get involved in to help them to create and maintain a healthy body and lifestyle. Valley Leisure Lifestyle caught up with Ben from Explore Outdoor and Liz from MEND to discuss what children and families can do to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Explore Outdoor is based at Charlton Lakeside and offers a range of outdoor adventure activities for children; activities include orienteering, archery, canoeing, and the use of the climbing wall. Camp Valley offers similar activities throughout the school holidays that keep children active.

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How do you feel that the activities that you offer at Explore Outdoor and Camp Valley help children to become more active?

Ben: It encourages children to exercise with it being fun. We also add the competitive and team work aspects so that the children are all working together towards something.

How important is activity to children?

Ben: Massively!

Liz: It is really critical for growth and development physically, mentally, and socially. It is essential for social development.

How important is the ‘adventure’ aspect of the activities that you offer through Explore Outdoor and Camp Valley?

Ben: It is neglected elsewhere; they don’t get to do these activities ordinarily. They have new and different experiences every time they participate.

Staying active is just one incredibly important aspect for children to maintain a healthy lifestyle. What tips do you have for children and parents to help them with maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle?

Ben: Little and often. We always encourage parents to get involved with the children as much as possible; you need that family link.

MEND is a FREE programme starting in September at Andover Leisure Centre for families who have a child or children (aged 5 – 7) who are over a healthy weight. Funded by Aster Communities, MEND aims to succeed in helping parents and children by creating fun ways to learn how to be active and eat well.

How important do you think learning how to maintain a healthy weight is at a young age?

Liz: Really important because what we learn when we’re young heavily influences what we think later on about what we eat and do. Learning to maintain a healthy weight when we’re young positively affects physical health and mental wellbeing which enables us to do more, ultimately reducing the risk of ill health throughout the life course.

MEND is for children and their parents or carers, enabling them to learn together. What are you offering to parents that can help them as well as their children?

Liz: Healthy living information about eating better and moving more supported by simple and effective lifestyle changes that the whole family can adopt. We also offer the benefits of goal and boundary setting to support positive change to a healthy lifestyle. We are offering practical solutions to get children to try new foods and practical solutions for parents to try at home which help to stop temper tantrums and develop healthy habits.

Unfortunately, obesity in young people is a big problem at the moment, how does MEND, and programmes like MEND, aim to help families?

Liz: By offering information and activity together in one session to both parents and children as well as offering practical solutions to support positive healthy behaviour change. Plus MEND is free of charge which removes the barrier of cost that many families worry about.

For more information please visit mendcentral.org, or to take part in MEND please contact Liz Murray on 01264 347113, or email her on lmurray@valleyleisure.com

For more information on taking part in Explore Outdoor or Camp Valley, visit our website: http://www.valleyleisure.com or call Charlton Lakeside directly at: 01264 338759.

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