These days, it’s not uncommon for parents to be juggling more responsibilities than they can handle, which leaves them with not enough time to be with their children. While simply giving them a screen to look at or a book to read can have its perks, it’s also vital for kids to get plenty of physical activity. No matter how busy you are, ensure your child is getting enough exercise to experience various health benefits.
How much physical activity do children need?
In case you’re wondering how much activity your kid might need, here is a good rule of thumb. Children under the age of one need at least 30 minutes of tummy time and floor play. Kids between one and five need at least three hours of activity per day while those older ones need at least 60 minutes each day. When it comes to staying active, everything from free play, games, and sports to recreation and transportation counts.
What are the benefits of physical activity?
Besides eating a balanced diet and getting enough quality sleep, staying active is one of the pillars of good health. With that in mind, what exactly are the benefits that children get to experience when they’re exercising on a regular basis?
Physical growth and better posture
For starters, kids need physical activity to grow. Exercising from a young age improves the health of one’s bones and muscles and lowers the risk of diseases like osteoporosis. A vital factor for healthy bones, however, is vitamin D, which is why kids also need to spend plenty of time outdoors while being active. What is more, exercise can also improve a kid’s posture as well as their core and spine strength.
Weight maintenance and being in shape
Seeing as how obese children run a higher risk of becoming obese adults, it’s vital that kids prevent huge gains of weight and burn enough calories. This can easily be done by getting the necessary physical activity. Furthermore, by exercising, kids will stay in shape and build stamina, strength, and flexibility.
In addition to being good for the body, physical activity is also beneficial for one’s mind. When individuals engage in exercise, it leads to their nerve cells multiplying and forming new connections. That means that physical activity plays a part in brain development as well, which leads to improved focus and better memory.
Improved mental health
Working out encourages our bodies to produce hormones that make us feel good and boost our mood, which is why children will also experience improved mental health when exercising. Physical activity is known to fight off stress as well as lower anxiety and depression levels. Plus, if they exercise while outside, getting plenty of vitamin D will also increase the production of serotonin.
As kids become better at what they do, they can also experience a boost of self-esteem. This confidence can be further enhanced if they have a healthy self-image, which can be developed by engaging in physical activity and staying in shape.
Social skills development
With more confidence, children will also have an easier time making friends. No matter if they’re a part of a sports team or simply climbing the monkey bars on a playground with other kids, they will learn to better communicate with their peers and even find themselves in leadership positions.
What activities can kids engage in?
With all that in mind, what are some of the best activities that kids can try to experience all the above-listed benefits? If you’re looking for an activity or sport that your child could get involved in, consider the following.
Go for walks
For one, an activity that you can do together that doesn’t require any special equipment is walking. Once they learn how to walk, going on family walks that are suited to their level is a great idea. From strolling slowly around the block to running errands all the way to going on hikes, the options truly abound. This way, your child will not become sedentary and they’ll have enough physical activity that will enhance their balance as well as lower body fat.
Another fun activity you can do together is cycling. There are many health benefits to regularly riding a bike so teach them while they’re young; just remember to look for quality kids’ bikes that are appropriate for your little one’s age. You can explore your block and town as a family but as they grow up, you should let them visit their friends and maybe even go to school by bike. If you’re thinking about taking it up a notch, you can also try mountain biking.
Take them swimming
Something else that you should teach your little ones at a young age is swimming. Whether you have access to a beach in your town or you go to a closed pool nearby, swimming is an activity that doesn’t require too much equipment. Basically, all they need is some swimwear and a few towels while you can also invest in floaties in the beginning as well as a bathing cap, goggles, and fins.
Encourage them to dance
Although you could sign your child up for dance classes, there is no need to be so formal unless this is something they explicitly desire. It can be enough to turn up the music at home and dance your hearts out every day. Play your favorite tunes and move to the groove and jump around – this can be enough to provide them with some exercise.
Sign them up for group sports
Of course, there is also the option of signing your little one up for a sport of their choosing. Even though they might decide on an individual sport like tennis, swimming, or skiing, you can also have them consider a team sport. This approach comes with added social benefits as training is a great way to meet and make new friends. Everything from basketball to volleyball has its perks so don’t overlook it.
As you can see, there are many benefits to physical activity, both physical and psychological. That is why you should do your best to include as much exercise into your little one’s schedule as they need.