Helping families with pre-schoolers overcome barriers to an active and healthy lifestyle.

Date: 25th Aug 2023 @ 3:10pm


The realities of daily life for many families with young children often mean that establishing and maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle is not always the top priority. Busy schedules, balancing work and family, and only so many hours in the day can make it really challenging to do much more than keep most of the plates spinning! 

However, it’s agreed by public health experts and practitioners that healthy nutrition and an active lifestyle in the early years are crucial for overall development, well-being and helping children to put positive habits in place that can last a lifetime. 

In this blog, we will explore some effective strategies to help UK families overcome barriers and cultivate a healthier and more active lifestyle for their little ones.

Engaging in Regular Physical Activity

One of the key components of a healthy lifestyle is regular physical activity. For children aged 0-5 years, active play is fun and essential for their physical, cognitive, and emotional development. Parents and caregivers can incorporate physical activity into their daily routine by taking children outdoors in areas they can run around, such as a local park, encouraging active playtime indoors, or participating in family-friendly exercise classes. Additionally, walking or cycling to nearby destinations instead of driving can help children become more active and familiarise them with their local surroundings. 

Making healthy habits the norm

Parents and caregivers play a vital role in shaping healthy habits in children. This includes having a well-balanced and nutritious diet, providing alternative activities to limit screen time, and providing lots of opportunities for physical play. Parents can involve their children in meal planning and preparation, making it a fun and educational experience for everyone – although perhaps not always the quickest way to get meals to the table! Not all screen time needs to be inactive – using screens to follow exercise routines, dance classes or interactive shows can help make screen time a more positive and healthy habit.

Making the most of community resources

Various parts of the UK offer numerous community resources that promote health and well-being among families with young children. Parents can explore local playgroups, sports clubs, and community centres that offer activities suitable for young children. These resources not only provide opportunities for physical activity but also serve as a platform for parents to connect with like-minded individuals, share experiences, and seek support. Many of these resources are also free or very low-cost. 

Overcoming Financial Barriers

The current cost-of-living crisis and financial constraints, in general, can mean that certain activities just aren’t possible for many families. This can feel like a big barrier to making healthier choices with food and physical activities. 

However, there are numerous low-cost or free alternatives available. Local parks, playgrounds, and nature trails provide excellent outdoor play opportunities without cost. Additionally, many libraries offer free or affordable activities, workshops, and story time sessions for young children, which provide something different to do whilst out and about and can help build social skills as well as benefitting physical and cognitive development. 

Encouraging positive role models

Children often imitate the behaviours of those around them, especially adults and siblings. By being positive role models and demonstrating healthy and active habits, parents and caregivers can help to develop similar values in their children. Engaging in physical activity together as a family strengthens the parent-child bond and sets a powerful example for the child to follow throughout their life.

There can be many barriers to a healthy and active lifestyle for families with young children, and it often requires dedication, creativity, and a willingness to make positive changes to make and maintain healthy habits. However, even small changes can have a significant impact, and families already have a lot to deal with, so just focusing on doing what you can is much better than doing nothing. 

The early years are a critical time for development, and by investing in healthy choices now, parents can provide their children with a strong foundation for a healthy and active future.

In our nursery and preschool settings, we promote healthy and active lifestyle choices for all children. We also want to offer parents and caregivers whatever support we can to help keep this going at home and when they’re not with us. 

Contact us to find out more about our services.