Why do children need exercise?
As children spend more time indoors either watching TV, playing electronic games or on the Internet, they are spending less and less time running and playing around outdoors.
I hear people say that “My child doesn’t need exercise as he/she plays at school”. However I beg to disagree. A bit of lunchtime fun is not the same as structured exercise, and by this I mean two soccer/netball practices each week for the game on Saturday.
Most kids need at least an hour of physical activity every day and most are not getting this.
What are the benefits of exercise for children?
Regular exercise is beneficial for growing children as it:
- Helps develop good social skills like sharing and co-operation
- Assists with hand-eye co-ordination
- Helps relieve stress
- Lifts self-esteem
- Enables them to focus more at school
- Builds and maintains healthy bones, muscles and joints
- Makes it easier to maintain a healthy weight
- Aids a better night sleep
What can I do to get my child moving?
- The first step is to limit TV, PC and electronic game time.
- Set a good example by being active yourself – go for a walk or bike ride and get the kids to come along too.
- Talk about exercise positively, (not as a chore or something to be dreaded), discuss the importance of a healthy body.
- Establish a routine, like getting up a bit earlier to walk the dog together.
- Let your children decide on what sport they might like to take part in. However not all children are sports orientated. They may prefer dance or martial art classes. If they are more artistic, head off to the beach or park to collect items for making art work.
- Mix it up and make it fun to keep the children interested. Play ball at the local park and invite the neighbour’s children along. Let the kids take turns choosing an activity of the day or week.
“Incorporating physical activity into your children’s lives does much more than promote a healthy weight, it sets the foundation for a lifetime of fitness and good health.” Dr. Laskowski – fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine and co-director of the Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Centre and professor at the College of Medicine, Mayo Clinic.