Play time is a great way to get more exercise

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Making time to play isn’t just good for your child’s imagination – it’s also good for their health.

That’s the message going out to parents via a new campaign designed to give them inspiration when it comes to play time ideas.

A free Make Time To Play app is available from the Android and Apple stores and there’s more information on the website

Psychologist and play expert Dr Amanda Gummer explains that play increases child’s heart rate and muscle strength, improves balance and co-ordination and helps build confidence.

Playing with toys actually engages children in physical activity for longer.

‘There’s loads of studies that show if you’re active, you’re healthier and the earlier kids get active, the more likely they are to keep it up long term,’ says Amanda.

‘If kids have been active, they sleep better, eat better and are better in the classroom – it perpetuates a better lifestyle and a happy family.’

She says these days many children aren’t given the freedom to find active play opportunities outside, but points out that research shows it doesn’t matter if children haven’t got a lot of space to play in, as long as they have toys that encourage active play. Such toys might include hula hoops, balls, balloons, skipping ropes or even mini-trampolines.

‘You can increase activity levels in a fairly small space,’ she adds.

‘You don’t need to take them to the park all the time. I applaud the campaigns to get kids playing outside and in nature, but you’re not failing your kids if you can’t do that, because there are active things they can do inside, like hide and seek, treasure hunts and building dens.’