We can see that active kids are healthier and happier in the short term. Fresh air, rosy cheeks, smiles for miles. Regular physical activity improves children’s mental health and wellbeing, it also improves their ability to learn! It is recommended that children do a minimum of 60 minutes mild to intense physical activity every day. This helps them to:
Grow healthy, strong, bones, muscles, and joints.
Have better posture and balance.
Grow and sustain healthy lungs and heart.
Keep a healthy weight.
Learn new skills while having fun.
Have better focus and concentration during school.
Develop good self-esteem.
Research also indicates that early childhood physical activity plays an important part in adulthood, and that the toll of inactivity could also reflect in adulthood.
One of the most fascinating, and newly discovered benefits of childhood exercise is one hidden inside our skeletons. Studies have found that bones retain a “memory” of early-life exercise, before the onset of puberty, that lasts long after the exercise has ceased, and provides health benefits even in a relatively sedentary adulthood. As well as making those individuals less prone in later life to bone diseases such as osteoporosis, these changes also have implications on the way food is processed, in particular, high-fat diets.
Our bones are far more involved in energy metabolism than we might think, and the gene expression changes induced by early-life exercise affect a variety of pathways that alter the body’s inflammatory response to a high-calorie diet. These changes are retained in the bone marrow into adulthood, making those children less susceptible to inflammatory-related diseases such as diabetes and cancer when adult. (Source: The Guardian)
Clearly there are many health benefits both now, and in the future, for our active kids, so how do we get them there? I'm a firm believer in including my children in my workouts, ever since they were tiny they'd copy what I was doing, whether it was an exercise DVD or a circuit session on the deck. They watched, they wanted to join in, they'd play "gyms" and they now write up their own sessions! Most exercises can be tailored to meet the needs of a growing child and it empowers them to "do the same as Mum/Dad". Our children look up to us, if we are physically active every day, this will most likely rub off on them and make them more active too. Sports people and celebrities are the usual role models we think of for our kids. But parents play a more important role. The fact is, good role models start at home.
By practicing good habits ourselves, we can help our children be the best versions of themselves. If our children see us exercising regularly, they are more likely to accept it as a normal part of their own lives.
We are very lucky here, our active kids go to a school that promotes and provides a range of physical activities daily, we have amazing playground facilities that encourage the children to be active, and a "PE shed" stocked with balls, hoops and ropes that kids can borrow over playtime. Through physical activities kids learn to set goals, meet challenges, the power of teamwork, sportsmanship and the value in practising. All values that stretch way beyond the playground.
Let’s not wait to change the sedentary behaviours of adults in the future, instead let’s invest in getting our young people active now. Raising our children to learn to love moving is a gift that lasts a lifetime and one they will pass down to their children and grandchildren.
Health & Happiness