Being physically active is an important element in every child’s health. It is essential that parents ingrain the habit of exercising into their child’s daily routine early on.
However, it is important to keep in mind that exercise is somewhat different from adults; playing and being active constitute a big part of exercising for children. Playing sports, gym class, riding bikes, or playing tag can all count as exercise.
So, why is exercise and being active important for a child’s health?
- Exercise helps make the muscles and bones stronger.
- It improves the child reflexes and coordination.
- It decreases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
- It can lower blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels.
- It can lower the chances of getting cold or the flu as often.
- It helps get more oxygen to a child’s brain which means better grades, better sleep, higher grades and less zoning out.
- Exercising helps a child stay calmer, feel better when under stress, and feel more energetic.
What kind of exercises should a child do?
Endurance, strength, flexibility are all elements of fitness. Parents should try encouraging their children to do a variety of activities so that they can work on all three elements.
- Endurance develops when kids get aerobic activity regularly. Activities that increase a child’s endurance include bicycling, running, swimming, tennis…etc.
- Strength develops when kids do activities that help them build muscles such as climbing, doing pull ups, doing pushups, and wrestling.
- Flexibility is improved by doing stretching exercises. It allows muscles and joints to move easily through their full range of motion.
How much exercise is enough?
School age children should exercise for 1 hour or more every day, in bouts of 15 minutes or more. It is also recommended that that they should not be inactive for periods longer than 2 hours. As for toddlers and preschoolers, their daily minimum activity should be 90 minutes and 2 hours respectively, and should not be inactive for more than 1 hour unless they are sleeping.