Fitness facts

I've teamed up with Pedal, who loves sport and keeping fit, to find out more about exercise

Why do I need to exercise?

Exercise helps your body to work properly. Children should do at least an hour of exercise every day, but that doesn't have to be all in one go – walking to school and back or walking to the local shops will help. The more exercise you do, the fitter you'll feel – so the more energy you'll have!

Eating the right food is important too. Your body needs food for energy. Eating food with lots of goodness in it helps make your bones and muscles healthy. Even when you are asleep, your body is using the good things in the food you eat to keep your heart beating, your lungs breathing and your brain working.

How much exercise should I do?

Regular exercise is very good for us, so we should try to do some every day. This could be playing football, swimming, cycling, walking or a game of tag.

You don't have to do 60 minutes all at once, you can spread it out over the day! Have fun exercising!

What should I eat before running a race?

First of all, it is important to make sure you are always eating a balanced diet so that you get all the nutrients you need. Nutrients will give your body the energy it needs for exercise.

Different foods give our bodies different kinds and amounts of nutrients. Food like bread, pasta and rice have carbohydrates in them that give our bodies lots of energy. So these foods are a good choice if you are going to be running a race.

Choose wholemeal versions if you can because they are healthiest. Remember that you shouldn’t eat anything just before a race, because your body needs time to digest the food first.

How many miles is a marathon?

A marathon is a very long race – just over 26 miles. That's the same as running up and down a football pitch 420 times! Running is good exercise and helps us keep healthy.

People who run marathons are really fit – they do a lot of training before the race to make sure that their bodies are ready to run such a long way. The fastest marathon was in 2018, when Eliud Kipchoge ran the Berlin Marathon in two hours, one minute and 39 seconds! Most people take four to six hours to run a marathon.

Maybe you could run a marathon when you're older! Until then, why not organise some shorter races in the park with your friends? Always try to beat your personal best!

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When I run, why do I get sweaty and tired?

Think of when you have been on a long journey in a car and how hot the engine gets. Our bodies are a bit like cars – they chug along and produce heat. Like a car engine, our body has a system to make sure we don't get too hot. It does this with the help of sweating, which cools us down.

When you run you use lots of energy. Feeling tired is a message your body sends to you to let you know you have used up all of your energy. You can get energy from the food you eat. Your body needs a good mix of lots of different foods to stay healthy. It also needs water, so make sure you replace the fluid lost in sweat by having a drink during and after exercising.

Is walking good exercise?

Yes, we should try to be active for at least 60 minutes every day. Walking to school is a great way to be active. Walking is easy and really good for you! When you walk more quickly your body uses more energy so it's even better for you.

If friends at your school live nearby, you could organise a walking group. Remember! Make sure that an adult always walks with you and that you are careful, especially near roads.

Why should I warm up before exercise?

Have you ever heard someone starting the engine of an old car? The engine may not start first time and then it will need to run for a little while to warm up before it can be driven away. Your body needs to warm up before exercise too. Warming up increases the heat all through your body – like warming up the engine of a car.

Once your body is warm, the muscles are softer. This means that they are more stretchy and able to move smoothly, work better together and help you to do your best without risking injury.

To warm up, start jogging on the spot for three minutes, stretch for ten minutes and finish off with a high energy activity like running or kicking a ball.

Where does the word 'exercise' come from?

The word 'exercise' has been used for more than a thousand years. At first it probably meant 'driving farm animals to the fields to plough'. So quite a different type of exercise from what we do today. People have been keeping fit and doing sports since the beginning of time.

Did you know that the very first Olympic Games took place in Greece over 2,700 years ago? Some of the sports played then are still part of the Olympic Games today, including sprint races, long jump and throwing the javelin and discus.

All types of exercise are good for you, not just sports. In fact, any playground games you do, or walking to school or even helping your family to clean the house, all count towards your 60 minutes of physical activity every day.