Did you know that only 1 in 3 children are physically active on a daily basis? While a little one might be bouncing off the walls, studies have shown that mere hyperactivity does not equal exercise. Physical activity is an essential component of a healthy lifestyle and must begin in infancy and extend throughout the teen years into adulthood. Regular physical activity increases lean body mass, muscle and bone strength. In addition, regular physical activity in children promotes good physical fitness and mental health.
Exercise does the following things:
- It encourages psychological well-being,
- It increases self-esteem and the capacity for learning, and
- It helps younger people to copy and manage stress.
It is recommended that at least 60 minutes or more of physical activity is done each day. Parent and educators should encourage physical activity in children, especially during infancy, as when children grow older – and begin to mature – our modern culture provides a great deal of temptation to adopt a sedentary lifestyle and push physical activity to the side lines.
Unfortunately due to our children and youth’s sedentary lifestyle there has been a dramatic rise in obesity. Parents and health-care professionals have to have a two-pronged approach in solving the problem:
- Not only do they have to concentrate on a balanced and nutritious diet but regular physical activity in children is the key to improving and solving weight problems amongst our youth.
Why is it important for children to be physically active?
Children grow extremely quickly. For example, experts say that during a child’s first year of life they grow 25cm. No two children grow at the same rate however, they all experience a growth spurt which starts around the age of between eight and 10.
During this time of growth, it’s extremely important for children to be physically active. This is because physical activity will help them to develop their motor coordination skills and to strengthen their bones. In addition, cardiovascular activity – such as taking part in sports – will help their heart in its development. This will stand them in good stead in their later life as if the foundations of a strong and healthy heart are laid in childhood, that person will be less likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease and the like later in life.
What foods should you be feeding your child?
In conjunction with physical activity, your child should be getting the proper nutrients.
We recently wrote an article – entitled The Secret to Good Nutrition for Your Children – which spoke about what you should be feeding your children. Here’s a summary of what it said:
- A good portion of a child’s diet should consist of grains. These foods produce a LOT of energy which will fuel the child’s growth and physical activities.
- Your child should be eating foods which contain healthy fats, for example avocados, oily fish (such as salmon and mackerel) and nuts. This is because these fats assist in, among others, the development of the nervous system.
- As we said previously, from the time that they are born to the time that they finish puberty your child grows at the rate of knots. To fuel the growth of their muscles, feed them a good amount of protein such as fish or skinless chicken breasts. Steer clear of fatty cuts of meat as this will increase their levels of bad cholesterol which could lead to heart disease.
Tips on how to encourage your child to be physically active
With children spending an average of 7 hours a day on computers and phones, here’s how to swap the screen time for healthy physical activity in no time:
Be a Role Model
The first step to promoting physical activity amongst the youth is to be a role model for them. Children, especially the very young, mimic the various adults in their lives. They learn how life is lived from watching us, so if we as adults are very active – the children around us will want to be too.
There’s little chance that a child will choose physical activity over playing Candy Crush. For this reason, consider removing external distractions just before and during physical activity. The fewer distractions they have, the more invested they’ll be in the fun activities.
Television should not be encouraged as it is detrimental to the development. Besides curtailing the child’s physical activity, increased television watching a sedentary lifestyle as we’ve stated above.
Develop a Plan
With a children’s exercise course, you’ll be qualified to develop comprehensive youth exercise plans that are both age-appropriate and considerate of personality traits. For example, some children might want to feel like they’re playing, while others prefer a more serious experience when it comes to exercise.
Use Active Toys
Whether they’re exercising for fun or for a specific reason, like making the under 9A hockey team, utilising active toys in physical activity for children and associated fitness programmes is a must! Not only do props like balls and ropes make exercising more fun, but they also improve hand-eye co-ordination.
Make it Fun
Finally, the best way to promote physical exercise in children is the easiest: Make it fun! Don’t be scared to make a fool of yourself, and keep the mood of the entire exercise experience one of light-heartedness and joviality. If exercise programmes for the child are fun, fitness will become a happy habit for kids.
Youth fitness and sports are the key to encouraging physical activity for children. However, some parents panic about the possibility of sports-related injuries. What they are inclined to forget is that exercise is an important health maintenances strategy for children and adolescents if the risk of injury is kept at a minimum with the proper prevention measures.
Children’s Fitness Course at Trifocus Fitness Academy
Want to qualify yourself in developing exercise programmes for children, delving into the areas of fitness, anatomy, nutrition and assessing fitness in children? Have a look at our Exercise and Children Course, and if you’d like to learn more, connect with us today!