By Contributor Vanessa Davis
Physical activity for children can greatly enhance their growth and development and helps lead to a healthy body in adulthood. Young children do not need strenuous training, exercising, or trips to the gym. Such activities are intended for adults and they are not suitable for children who are still developing.
Physical activity in early childhood primarily involves active games and the children’s ability to move freely and explore their environment. Today we’ll look at some simple everyday ways kids can get the benefits of physical activity in early childhood.
Studies show that physical activity in early childhood is associated with better physical health, which involves proper body posture, stronger bones and muscles, and a better cardiovascular and respiratory function. It also significantly reduces the risks of developing some diseases including heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.
Everyday Ways to Encourage Physical Activity in Kids
Small Groups – Look for opportunities to for your child to be physically active in a group whether it’s active games for siblings to play together, having a few friends over for a play date, or a regular play group. Physical activity with peers can build a child’s confidence and improve social skills. Young children often enjoy physical activities with other children, giving them an opportunity to watch their peers and try new skills.
Try out various sports – Opportunities to learn about and try games in a fun low pressure environment will help children become acquainted with activities and sports they may want to try when they are older. Your son may have a natural talent for throwing the ball or your daughter may like kicking the ball.
Weave physical play into your regular activities – look for ways to get your kids moving doing the activities you are already engaged in: toss socks paired balled up socks into the laundry basket from the couch, or you could have an impromptu sock fight with those same socks. Declare that it’s time to build a mountain of pillows to scale. Create a terrain with obstacles around the house or use sponge balls to play.
Media movement breaks – If your family enjoys watching a television series together, do jumping jacks or marching in place during the commercials. Any activities that get children moving are better than sitting on the couch for a long time. In the age of technology, parents must be creative in order to develop positive screen time habits. The key thing is to create an environment where children feel safe and where they are encouraged to expand their views and range of physical activity.
Get out side – check out your local parks, playground, outdoor recreation areas. Getting outdoor gives kids an opportunity for physical activities of varying intensity – from moderate, such as taking a walk, to very intense such as running and jumping. While it may seem to us that little children do not stand still when they are awake, most of their physical activity is actually of a moderate intensity. The advice of most experts is that children in early childhood should take at least three hours a day to be physically active.
The key thing is to create an environment where children feel safe and where they are encouraged to expand their physical activity.
The Benefits of Getting Kids Moving in the Early Years:
Confidence: Early childhood is a time when children feel that their physical abilities are high and when they are most willing to try and repeat new activities. This can be helpful in developing lifelong basic physical skills such as body awareness, throwing, catching, and maintaining balance. Starting in the early years means kids can build on their natural early confidence.
The benefits of physical activity are not only related to physical health, but also contribute to psychological well-being, cognitive development (attention and concentration), social competence and emotional maturity (controlling emotions and behavior, self-esteem and self-respect).
With today’s lifestyle, most young children do not move enough. Early years are crucial both for children’s psycho-physical development and for the adoption of healthy habits that will follow them throughout their lives. Scientific evidence suggests that children with higher levels of physical activity in early childhood are more likely to remain active later in life, which is important for obtaining optimal health and well-being
Parents and caregivers play a decisive role in encouraging the physical activity in young children. We can model healthy habits by playing physical games with our children, making time and space for our own physical activity, and limiting our own time spent watching TV or playing video games
What are your favorite physical activities to do with young children?
Here are some fun ways to Get Kids Moving – Indoors and Out:
- Indoor Active Play Toys for Burning Energy
- Our Favorite Outdoor Toddler Toys
- Our Favorite Outdoor Preschool Toys
Vanessa Davis is a 32-year- old fitness enthusiast, mother of two and content writer at diet.st. She’s originally from Long Island, New York, and when she isn’t cooking up some new health and fitness article, she enjoys doing yoga and figuring out new, delicious organic recipes for herself and her kids.