The Importance of Physical Activity for Kids’ Health

Getting plenty of healthy physical exercise as we grow up is paramount for our health later in life. And while you’d think that kids hardly need to be urged to get up and go out given the energetic, active little creatures they are, times have undeniably changed.

With digital spaces playing such a major part in our kids’ lives from an early age, and schools switching to online education, keeping them glued to a screen for the better part of the day, kids now spend more time indoors than before, and the dangers of physical inactivity are becoming real. Therefore, it’s clear that right now, it’s more important than ever to encourage our little ones to get plenty of exercise for sound mental and physical health.

Read below to learn about the benefits of physical activity for kids’ development and what you can do to ensure your child will love to move their muscles!

Exercise and physical health

The first couple of years of your child’s life are incredibly important for their development. That is the time during which their brain is growing rapidly, and physical exercise aids this development tremendously. Physical activity will boost the connections between their brain and their nerves, helping the advancement of their motor skills, as well as other, non-movement-related skills. What this results in is improved balance and coordination—kids will also learn how to do everyday tasks that require dexterity much faster.

At the same time, physical exercise strengthens their health and bodies: it boosts their lung capacity, improves their bone density, and strengthens their muscles. In addition, it keeps their heart in top shape. Regular physical exercise lowers the chances of developing diseases such as heart disease and type-2 diabetes, but it also wards off the risk of obesity and all the complications it can bring along later on. Exercise helps maintain an optimal weight while also keeping the body’s fitness levels high. Finally, exercise also contributes to better posture. Thus, it is in kids’ best interest to instill these habits in them for their future physical health and well-being.

It’s important for mental well-being, too

As we mentioned briefly, exercise also positively affects the brain and its development. It is no wonder, thus, that physical exercise is also related to better concentration skills. The improved connections in the brain result in better memory, too, which will provide a solid foundation for your child’s performance at school. Exercise also improves sleep, which allows the brain (as well as the body) to perform at its best the following day.

Taking care of your child’s mental health is as important as taking care of their physical health, and the good news is that exercise plays an important role on this front as well. Physical activity is one of the best ways to protect oneself from the negative effects of stress and anxiety. Even a little bit of exercise can relax the body and ward off the tension that stress causes. So, instilling the healthy habit of getting plenty of physical exercise in your kids will ensure that their mental well-being is not threatened and they have the appropriate strategies for managing stress later in their lives.

The social aspect

Socializing is incredibly important for kids’ development, and exercise can provide the perfect tool for this, too. Group physical activities are amazing for developing and practicing social skills that are going to be important for the child later in life. From the importance of teamwork to making compromises and taking turns, life lessons can be learned through physical activity. Creating connections this way is going to boost your child’s confidence and self-esteem, too. 

Even older kids who find themselves socially anxious may find a solution in partaking in such group activities as it can alleviate some of the pressure of the situation. Needless to say, creating connections through these activities also wards off loneliness and isolation and makes kids feel like part of a group, which is important for their emotional and mental well-being.

How to get them to move more?

The most important thing when encouraging your kids to move more is letting them do something they truly enjoy. Don’t force them to do a sport they are not interested in—if anything, you will only breed antagonism this way. Instead, let them choose, and explore a variety of fun activities together in order to encourage a positive attitude. Make sure the activities are age-appropriate and that caution is taken when necessary. Here are a couple of ideas they may be interested in:

  • Dancing – Despite what many may think, dancing is indeed a sport, and a very healthy one at that. Let your kids enjoy music and take their motor skills to the next level with dance lessons. 
  • Cycling – Get a couple of sturdy kids bikes and explore cool nearby places every week. Let them get excited about trying a new route every time!
  • Visit the playground – Unstructured physical activity where kids can do whatever they want allows them to use their creativity and explore how the world works at their own pace. Simply take them down to the playground and let them do their thing.
  • Throw and catch – Simple activities you can play anywhere, like throwing a ball or a Frisbee, are always a good choice.
  • Take them for a swim – Teaching kids how to swim is important. In the process, you may find that your little one enjoys the water more than you expected. Swimming is a fantastic full-body exercise, so take frequent trips to the pool!
  • Enroll them in a sport – If your child is old enough to follow the rules that come with team sports, it may be time to enroll them in a sport of their choice. It will not only aid their development but give them lots of unforgettable childhood memories as well.
  • Try hiking – Besides cycling, another activity the whole family can enjoy together is walking or hiking. Whenever you can, visit nature, and let kids explore their surroundings while breaking a sweat.

If your kids are still young, instilling these habits in them will ensure that they can grow into healthy adults. However, even if your children are already a little older, there’s a lot you can do. Involve the whole family in recreational activities and everyone will feel happier and more balanced.