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Denise Lewis' advice for encouraging children to become more active

The Olympic gold-medallist is championing the Change4Life

by Chloe Best

Denise Lewis has revealed her top tips for parents struggling to get their children to be more active. The Olympic gold-medallist, who is a mum-of-four, has teamed up with Change4Life to launch a new campaign with fun ten-minute activities inspired by classic Disney films. We caught up with Denise to find out all about the campaign and her favourite family activities.

Why did you want to get involved with the Change4Life campaign?

Being active has always been a huge part of my life and it's something that gives me such pleasure, even now I'm no longer competing. I was very keen to share my love of being active with my kids, as being active is not only good for your body, but can help build social skills and boost self-confidence and mental wellbeing.

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Less and less children are being as active as they should be; currently, just 23% of boys and 20% of girls meet the national recommended level of activity and the number of children meeting the recommended amount of physical activity, which is 60 minutes a day, drops by 40% as they move through primary school. I wanted to get involved with the Change4Life campaign to help kids get excited about moving more and being active.

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What do you love about the 10 Minute Shake Ups programme?

Kids need to get 60 minutes of physical activity every day, but being a mum myself I know how daunting that sounds! The days are so busy and it can seem like an impossible task to fit 60 minutes in. The 10 Minute Shake Ups provide lots of ideas for helping kids get active and they're easy to fit in around your daily routine. They're also inspired by popular Disney characters and films, so it's not hard to convince kids to give them a go!

Do you have a favourite out of the Disney Shake Ups?

We are big Moana fans in my house, so any of the Moana-themed Shake Ups! Pua and the Coconut Harvest is fun; you roll up balls of old newspaper and one person throws them over their shoulder while the person behind has to try to catch them in a basket. Games like that are brilliant to help children develop coordination skills.

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Have you tried them with your children yet?

Yes, I have done some of the Shake Up exercises with my kids… they are very well coordinated so they didn't find them too challenging. They are asking me to buy a large elastic so they can take part in game called Follow Sven's Sled in Frozen Fever. This is a game that actually reminds me of something I used to play in the playground at my primary school!

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How do you think parents can encourage their children to be more active?

Parents can encourage children to be more active my leading by example or simply joining whist they play. Kids always enjoy seeing their parents having a go (even if they are making a fool of themselves) it adds to the fun!

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How do you motivate your own children?

My children always have a ball of some description whether it's a tennis, cricket, rugby or football. We are fortunate to have a garden to play in but I have purchased sponge ball so they can have fun indoors too with our breaking things! Motivating my children isn't difficult but I like them to try new activities.

What is your favourite activity to do as a family?

We had a family day out at a climbing centre recently - that was really fun.

Do you think any of your children would be interested in following your footsteps with a career as an athlete?

I hope my children will always feel that sport and being active is a way of life, if one of them gets to international level, that will be a very proud moment indeed. (No pressure)

Olympic heptathlon gold medallist, Denise Lewis (OBE) has joined forces with Change4Life, Disney and Sport England to encourage children to get active this summer with the 10 Minute Shake Ups programme. Search '10 Minute Shake Ups' online or visit www.nhs.uk/10-minute-shake-up

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