You are probably aware of the importance of physical activity for adults but have you ever wondered how much running around, riding a bike, or swimming are important for children? For them, it’s not only about muscle mass, looking fit, and improved stamina; children’s entire physical, mental, and emotional development depends on the amount of exercise they get.
Improved motor skills
It is essential for children to develop motor skills at a young age. These skills are necessary to master the most basic of movement, such as running, tying shoelaces, climbing, handling objects, etc. These are the skills we adults take us for granted but we too were stumbling about when we were three.
Practicing motor skills isn’t something children do consciously. For them, it’s all fun and games, while the parents’ role is to ensure this learning process goes on safely.
Children and mental health
Unlike homework, you needn’t tell your kid twice to go outside and play. Playing in the park or taking up a sport are activities that children look forward to, which is a welcoming change from the chore you assign them. Through physical activity, children learn the true meaning of freedom. When they grow up, they will develop a healthy view of life, resulting in a decreased risk of developing anxiety or depression.
A strong heart
According to the World Health Organization, childhood overweight and obesity are on the rise across the globe. The main cause of obesity in children is a combination of a poor diet and a lack of physical activity. The latter is harder because playing Fortnite is more alluring than climbing a tree.
The worst thing about obesity is that the child’s heart suffers. Just like adults, the little ones risk developing various cardiovascular diseases. Type 2 diabetes is another danger of a chronic lack of physical activity.
Better posture through spine strength
Doesn’t your heart sing every time you see your son or daughter slouching over the desk? This problem is more common than you might think and it is directly related to a weak spine. Increasing your kid’s core strength alleviated posture problems and the only way to build any person’s core is through exercise. Good posture should be among the top health priority for you as a parent, as your child will experience backache in later life unless they correct their posture when still growing.
We have established a correlation between obesity and a lack of physical activity. However, getting enough exercise is a great way to regulate a child’s body weight without any dietary restrictions. Kids love sweets and junk food but instead of forbidding them from eating it, you can balance a partially unhealthy diet with enough physical activity. There is nothing the human organism cannot burn through physical strain.
Overall fitness level
We are going to list 12 clear benefits of physical activity for the child’s physical and mental health but in reality, it is hard to measure the exact effect of playing in the park. However, medical doctors agree that one hour of physical activity per day is the minimum for children aged 6 or older.
This helps young ones raise their overall fitness level, just as adults do when exercising. If you let your kids run around in the park, they will soon be able to walk long distances without getting tired. Also, they will feel more stable at their feet and their body will be more flexible, preventing possible fractures.
Watching your children grow
Human beings grow and “develop” until their early twenties. This process is most intense in childhood when they dramatically increase their muscle and bone mass. You might not realize this as a parent who sees their child every day but your son or daughter at 5 years old will have altered their appearance significantly by the time they are 12.
Children grow fast because of the food they eat (duh!), the sleep they get, and regular physical exercise. Every step they make is a signal to the body to grow that part of the body. For instance, parents get kids bikes to help them develop stronger leg muscles, the calf muscle in particular. Children with poor lung capacity are encouraged to take up a sport that requires high levels of stamina, such as football.
Children will learn to trust their capabilities
One of the biggest advantages of physical activity is the fact it’s purposeful. Even climbing a tree has a goal: to reach a certain branch (hopefully not the highest and definitely not unsupervised). The more goals your children accomplish, no matter how petty they might appear to you as an adult, your children’s self-confidence will grow over time.
If they take up a sport, then they will feel a sense of victory and team spirit firsthand. A sense of belonging is important and should be nurtured from an early age.
Practicing social skills
Another perk of physical activity is that it’s rarely solitary. There are always other kids waiting for the same ride in the carnival or building a castle inside the same sandbox. This is an excellent opportunity for your child to make friends and socialize.
In today’s world, social skills are essential if you want to get married or get a well-paid job. The sooner your kids learn to mingle, the faster will they become independent and ready to fend for themselves, which is the ultimate goal of good parenting.
A workout for the brain
Improved cognitive development is another advantage of physical activity in children. Muscles aren’t the only ones that grow during cycling or running, as the brain gets a solid workout as well. The nerve cells inside the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex get triggered and start to multiply, forming new connections.
As a result, your kid will benefit from improved concentration and better memory, allowing them to excel in school and future learning.
What is considered a physical activity?
Now, many parents are surprised that even strolling to school is considered physical activity. The reason for this is the unofficial scaling of physical activity from light one to intensive physical activity. As part of light physical activity, playing an instrument, drawing, or painting can all stimulate certain muscle groups, although these activities appear sedentary by nature.
More intense physical activities are walking fast, swimming, jumping, dancing, flying a kite, riding a bike, rope skipping, skating, etc. Such moderate exercises will get your kid huffing and puffing but they won’t tire them out.
That’s reserved for vigorous physical activities, such as amateur or professional sport (tennis, football, cycling, basketball, dodgeball, volleyball, ice hockey, etc.). In general, any type of activity that involves competing against others or themselves is considered highly intense and physically demanding. These activities are bound to make your kid sweat.
Once children are tired after an entire day spent in the park playing, they are going to sleep tight. Pediatric sleep disorders are quite common nowadays, so it’s great that parents can use various physical activities (listed above) to “make” their kids go to bed early. An orderly sleep/wake cycle is essential for general health, not just for children but adults as well.
Kids’ development and physical activity are intrinsically linked to the point that the latter conditions the former. No child will grow without enough sleep, food, and physical activity. Whether it’s a team sport or just riding their bike in the backyard, children should be encouraged to stay active.