Let’s get PHYSICAL….

With the growing number of obese and overweight children, together with the increased rates of serious illnesses in children, parents want to know how exercise can help. Frequent physical activity of both structured and unstructured play benefit children significantly.

Bones and Muscles
Physical activity enables children’s bones to become and remain strong and improves mineral density. “Physical activity develops strength and stimulates bones to grow” – says Helen, a specialist in developmental paediatric physiotherapy “Function and strength in muscles is needed for movement, balance control and play skills”. Having sturdy bones is particularly essential for developing children. By developing sturdy bones and muscles, children have additional endurance and durability to deal with day to day life.

Like adults, children develop a leaner body composition when they exercise. They have less fat and are not likely to become overweight or obese. Those who are overweight can lose weight with exercise. By having a proportional height and body type to healthy weight, children are less likely to develop serious diseases that can come about from being overweight. Helen recommends small amounts of physical activity often “young kids need to be physically active for at least 2-3 hours a day, most kids will play for 20 – 30 minutes, have a rest, then play for another 20 – 30 minutes”

Children who exercise tend to not develop chronic illnesses or diseases like diabetes, allergies, high cholesterol levels, respiratory problems, thyroid imbalances, heart problems and orthopaedic problems. Research has proven that some childhood psychological disorders, like depression, anxiety and concentration problems, are at least in part physiological in origin that can be enhanced with physical activity.

Exercise can help a child’s brain in considerable ways. It promotes the creation of new neurons and improves a compound that brain cells need to develop. Due to these brain enhancements from physical activity, children have better mental performance and concentration, among additional advantages. Children that are in good physical shape because of exercise also have faster reaction times compared to children who are not involved in physical activity. Likewise, exercise helps children achieve a sound and regular sleeping pattern, which is critical for your child to develop and function properly-physically, emotionally and socially.

Blood Flow
When children exercise, blood flow increases throughout their bodies and to every cell and tissue. This helps to move sufficient oxygen and nutrients to all parts of the body, which is significantly advantageous for a developing child whose entire body requires vast amounts of nutrients. Due to additional nutrients, the child has extra energy for exercising. “Walking, obstacle courses, bat and ball play, climbing, dancing, swimming, martial arts and riding a bike are some great physical activities” says Helen, “a family can go for a walk and a child can ride a bike. Engaged families that are physically active with their child helps their child develop strength, confidence and ability with movement.”