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the importance of physical activity for growth and development of kids

Physical activity is important for both the physical and mental development of children, especially during the first five years of life. It's during this time that parents and educators should begin to encourage kids to engage in physical activities at an early age and build good habits that can last a lifetime.

In this article, you will learn about the critical importance of physical activity for the development of children. We’ll also help you with some tips on how to implement an effective physical education program into you and your child’s lives.

Benefits of Physical Activity for Kids

  • Physical and Mental Development

    The foremost benefit of physical activity for kids is that it helps improve the overall health of the child. According to the North Carolina Child Care Health and Safety Resource Center, physical activity can assist in early brain development of infants and young children.

  • Brain Development

    The majority of human brain development occurs during the first few years of life. By age 2, a child’s brain has grown from 25% to roughly 75% of its total adult size. Physical exercise helps create connections between the brain and the nerves. It accelerates the brain development and the learning processes of motor skills, personal awareness, socialization, problem-solving, and creativity.

  • Increased Lung Capacity

    Regular physical activity also helps improve lung capacity. Increased physical activity results in more oxygen being drawn into the body and more waste gases are expelled from the body. Moreover, regular physical exercise reduces the risk of lung diseases such as asthma.

  • Heart Health

    Physical activity helps reduce harmful fats and cholesterol in the blood. It increases the flexibility of the blood vessels and keeps veins and arteries clear. Increased blood vessel flexibility reduces the risk of stroke or heart attack during adulthood. It also helps reduce the risk of various other serious health complications such as hypertension and other heart related disorders.

Tips for an Effective Physical Education Program for Children

Young children should be provided opportunities to be active and to develop control, coordination, and movement. Experts advise that children should take part in physical activities at least one hour each day to maintain physical health.

It is important to teach children at an early age to recognize the importance of physical activity for improved mental and physical development. Here are some suggestions that can help in implementing a strong early physical education program into your child’s life.

  1. Group Activities

    One of the easiest ways to help your child get active is to help them get involved in group activities. Group exercises not only assist in keeping your child active but also helps your child see the fun side of physical activity. Playing with peers can also improve social skills and increase self-confidence.

  2. Activity Break

    As you probably know, it is very difficult for most children to sit still for long periods of time. Therefore, it is important to remind your child to take breaks between classes or on long trips to help them release energy and stretch their growing muscles.

  3. Bone and Muscle Strengthening Exercises

    Bone and muscle strengthening exercises can help in the physical development of children. Some examples of bone strengthening exercises for kids include walking, running, and jumping rope. Muscle-strengthening exercises for children include swinging and climbing on the playground. Encourage your child to take part in a variety of activities to make sure they are engaged in a well-rounded physical routine.

  4. Outdoor Locations

    School playgrounds, local parks, and outdoor recreation areas are ideal places for physical activities. Being outdoors provides kids an opportunity to take part in different types of physical activities that are typically not available in the home. Children can participate in physical activities of different intensities ranging from moderate physical activities such as walking to intense physical activities such as jumping and climbing. Be sure to apply proper sunscreen before outdoor activities.

  5. Limit Use of TV and Video Games

    While TV and video games are certainly a form of entertainment for kids, it's important to limit how much time kids spend on these two forms of entertainment. Try to encourage kids to spend as much time as possible taking part in physical activities and limit the amount of time allotted for television and video games in your child’s schedule.

    In addition, kids can be encouraged to play fitness video games such as Kinect Sports, Active 2, Sports Champion, and Zumba Fitness. These games can be a source of both physical and mental exercise for children and can be a great alternative to outdoor physical activity on rainy days.

  6. Be a Good Role Model

    One key aspect of keeping your children active is keeping yourself active. After all, you are your child’s biggest role model. No amount of encouragement can get them to be physically active if they see the opposite in their parents. If children see their parents engaging in physical activity, they will usually adopt the good behavior themselves.

    Consider involving the entire family in physical activity routine. Encourage everybody in the household to take part in physical exercise. Play football in the backyard or spend the afternoon at the park. After all, physical activity is beneficial to us all, not just children.

  7. Take it Slow

    Children who are not used to exercise won't be able to tolerate vigorous physical activity. So, it's important to go slow at the start your child’s physical activity routine. Consider starting with a 10-minute walk every other day after school. Add a minute more after each walk, and monitor the progress.

    Taking small steps is important when it comes to encouraging kids to carry on physical activity. Seeing that they are making progress will increase their motivation. Some parents have found that offering their child incentives helps to increase physical activity as well.

    Every child should be encouraged to take part in a physical activity program. This will help in the physical and mental development of the child while also encouraging them to make exercise a part of their daily life and take positive steps toward a healthy lifestyle.

    To learn more about your child’s physical health in particular and to get helpful tips for keeping your child active, contact the professionals at Glen Allen Pediatrics. Dial 804-282-4210 today to make an appointment with an experienced pediatrician who can help you find the perfect routine for your child’s needs.