The Importance of Kids Being Active
Children need to be active every day to promote their healthy growth and development. Kids who establish healthy lifestyle patterns at a young age will carry them and their benefits forward for the rest of their lives
Physical activity can help kids cope with stress. It also promotes:
Healthy growth and development
Stronger bones, muscles and joints
Better posture and balance
A stronger heart
A healthier weight range
Social interaction with friends
Learning new skills while having fun
Better focus and concentration during school
Physical activity has also been associated with psychological benefits in young people by improving their control over symptoms of anxiety and depression. Similarly, participation in physical activity can assist in the social development of young people by providing opportunities for self-expression, building self-confidence, social interaction and integration. It has also been suggested that physically active young people more readily adopt other healthy behaviours and demonstrate higher academic performance at school.
Active kids are happy kids - they like to be running around and having fun. In fact, kids aged five to 16 need to do at least 60 minutes of physical activity that gets their heart beating faster than usual. Kids under five need three hours of activity a day â find out more HERE. They need to do it every day to burn off calories and prevent them storing up excess fat in the body.
If you've ever watched kids on a playground, you've seen the three elements of fitness in action when they:
run away from the kid who's "it" (endurance)
cross the monkey bars (strength)
bend down to tie their shoes (flexibility)
Endurance is developed when kids regularly engage in aerobic activity. During aerobic exercise, the heart beats faster and a person breathes harder. When done regularly and for extended periods of time, aerobic activity strengthens the heart and improves the body's ability to deliver oxygen to all its cells.
Physical activities that strengthen muscle and bone involve using body weight or working against a resistance. An example would be swinging on playground equipment.
Stretching exercises help improve flexibility, allowing muscles and joints to bend and move easily through their full range of motion. Kids look for opportunities every day to stretch when they try to get a toy just out of reach, practice a split, or do a cartwheel.
While kids are active at school, most of the time they are actually sitting down and can be happy just to chat to their friends in the playground instead of running around. It's more fun if you make activity something the whole family can do together, and kids are more likely to join in if they see mum or dad doing it too.
Make physical activity fun for the whole family and involve your children in the planning. Focus on fun, not performance. Not all children are natural athletes. But all can make activity a lifetime habit.
Ideas for activities/sports:
Martial Arts i.e. Karate
Rachel Bunting is the Health Services Manager at Zest, an award winning, Sheffield based community enterprise.
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