Staying active has a wide range of benefits, from taking care of your heart and lungs and building muscles, to improving flexibility and boosting your mood. There are many ways to keep active, including running, walking, sports and swimming. Though, a popular way of keeping young people moving is the Mile a Day initiative, particularly in schools.
What is the Mile a Day initiative?
The Mile a Day initiative was set up as a way to boost fitness for children in primary schools in a way that is accessible to all. As little as 2.5 hours of exercise a week can be enough to help ward off complications in later life caused by obesity. 25.5% of Reception children and 39.8% of Year Six children are either overweight, obese or severely obese across England so it is important to act early to help prevent these issues.
What does the Mile a Day initiative entail?
It’s exactly what it sounds like. Children are encouraged to move a mile a day, whether walking, jogging, or running, during break times and sports lessons. As it’s the distance that counts, not the speed, it will be easier for the children to complete the mile as they can take it at their own pace, without pressure. When the children progress in their fitness levels, they will be able to move through the mile faster and it can be a good idea to keep records of their times at the beginnings and ends of school terms so that they can see their progression. If a child does not become faster, that’s okay too. The point is for them to keep up the activity so as long as they are doing that, they should be praised too.
How do we encourage children to take part?
How you use encouragement and incentive can vary from child to child. The children may want to have the freedom to talk to their friends when they walk. They might enjoy combining other activities like telling stories as a group while they move. Who says you can’t include the walk during another lesson so that the children can enjoy some sunshine while they learn? For some, it can be a great idea to have a race to inspire healthy competition. Or it might be that explaining the health benefits to the older children will give them enough of a push to get moving.
The best way to encourage them though? Make it fun! Include some sprints and obstacles so it’s not the same through the whole mile. You can have lines to make tracks or tightropes and dots that mark the path or work as stepping stones. Don’t forget to include some marker points – kids like to ask how much longer there is, so this way they can learn to pace themselves.
You may also like to look at our Build Your Own Trail playground markings for more playground fun. Combining some of our fun activity stations along the way will help to add variety and keeps the children engaged. You can make the mile a day as simple or as fun as you like with different active spot activities such as squat, lunge, star jump, spin, stretch, jump and hop. Why not get the children involved and get them to choose which activities they’d like to add?
For more information about our Mile a Day playground markings, get in touch with our friendly team and we’ll be happy to discuss your requirements. We can provide a free quote and even offer free, no-obligation surveys so you can get an idea of what your new playground will look like.