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Physical Health|31 January 2023

Why physical activity is an irreplaceable part of every kid’s daily routine

Written by Varuna Shunglu
Varuna Shunglu is an author, lawyer, health counselor and meditation teacher. She consults with Schools to create wellness curriculums and has worked with over 10,000+ kids in the last 8 years. Degrees : BA(Hons), LLB, Msc Yogic Science, Teacher trainer World Yoga Federation and Yoga Alliance International.

From improving cognitive function to developing motor skills, find out why physical activity is an irreplaceable part of every kid’s daily routine – and get some consistency to have them waiting for more!

Physical activity is one of the most important things that you can give your kids. Not only does it improve their cognitive function, development, and mood, but it also helps them develop important motor skills. In this article, we’re going to discuss the benefits of physical activity for kids and why it’s so important to include it in their daily routine. 

We’ll also discuss an age breakdown of how much activity is needed for children according to their age that will help them develop healthy play habits so you know when to transition from one activity schedule to incorporate more when needed.

Finally, we’ll remind you how children who have health challenges can also incorporate physical activity and what ways you can be there for them. So don’t wait any longer to make sure your kids are getting the physical activity they need by including it in their daily routine. 

What are the benefits of regular physical activity?

1. Improves cognitive function: Physical activity is one of the most important things that kids can do to improve their overall health and well-being. Not only does it help with weight management, but research shows that physical activity also has a range of positive effects on cognitive function. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), physical activity is one of the best ways to improve cognitive function in children.

2. Mental health: Physical activity is good for your mental health, and there are many reasons why. Physical activity has been shown to boost your mood, help you focus and concentrate, reduce stress and anxiety, improve academic performance, increase self-esteem and confidence, and enhance social skills. In fact, physical activity can do so much for your mental health that it’s often referred to as a brain booster.

Regular exercise has been shown to increase levels of serotonin in the brain – a neurotransmitter that plays an important role in regulating moods. Furthermore, exercise has also been shown to decrease levels of cortisol – the stress hormone – which can lead to a happier disposition overall. 

Physical exercise also reduces levels of stress and anxiety by releasing endorphins which improve self-esteem by increasing feelings of self-worth and confidence. Being active can help to reduce stress and anxiety levels, which can lead to a better quality of life which in turn leads to better mental health. It can bring in more mental clarity and make better decisions in life. 

Finally, research shows that people who are physically active have stronger social relationships than their sedentary counterparts due to their enhanced ability to communicate effectively (both verbally and nonverbally). All these advantages add up over time and result in improved academic performance and self-confidence when participating in extracurricular activities or pursuing interests outside of schoolwork!

3. Better Sleep: According to the CDC, getting enough sleep is essential for healthy brain development. Physical activity can help to promote better sleep by helping children wind down after a day of play or learning. It can also increase relaxation and stress relief, which are both important components of a good night’s sleep.

4. Concentration and Focus: When kids are physically active, their brains tend to work more efficiently and they tend to have better concentration and focus throughout the day. They are better at staying focused on tasks and learning more efficiently – both in school and outside of school settings such as home or sports games.

5. Social Skills: Physical activity not only aids in brain development but also improves social skills. Physical activity helps children learn how to interact with others cooperatively – something that’s essential to expand your network and create lifelong relationships. 

6. Develops Motor Skills: Physical activity is an essential part of every kid’s routine, and there are many benefits to being active. One of the most important benefits of physical activity is that it improves brain function. Regular exercise has been shown to improve cognitive function in adults by increasing blood flow and oxygen levels to the brain. In addition, being physically active has been linked with a decreased risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Just like muscles in the body, the brain is also a muscle. When we workout, the left and right sides of the body activate the opposite sides of the brain thereby exercising the body’s largest muscle ie. the brain. The right side of the brain is said to control the left side of the body and vice versa.

These skills are important not just when you’re playing sports or working out at the gym; they’re also important for everyday activities like walking down stairs or avoiding obstacles on your path, lifting a suitcase with both hands or even practicing writing with both hands.

7.  Explore their surroundings and connect with nature: They can learn about their neighbourhood, what’s around them, and how things work. This exploration can help prepare them for life beyond childhood by teaching them how to problem-solve and think critically.

Physical activity can help children feel confident and capable, improving their self-esteem.

8. Fresh air and sunshine are good for kids’ physical health: Being out in the sun exposes your child’s skin to Vitamin D which is important for healthy bones and teeth development as well as providing a boost of energy throughout the day. Sunlight also helps to fight against cancer cells!

9. Enhancing creativity: Some research suggests that physical activity can promote creative thinking in children. They learn from patterns in nature and learn to observe, becoming better listeners. 

10. Prevent obesity in adulthood – not only does playing outside help children burn calories while they’re playing, but it also teaches them how to be more physically active throughout the day instead of just during gym class or PE class! Being active every day may not sound like much at first, but over time it can make a big difference in your child’s long-term health.

How can we classify activity?

Vigorous intensity activities– This category would encompass any activity which requires intense bursts of movement and can increase the heart rate to a high extent. Eg. sprinting &  playing football.

Moderate-intensity activities– These are activities where the heart rate is stable and the body gets enough movement without getting too tired. 
Eg:- stretches, jogging, etc

Both kinds of activities are important once the child is 5 years and above.

What kind of exercise is necessary for all age groups? 

Children of age 5-9 years– At least one hour of moderate to vigorous activity every day. Running, sprinting, cycling, swimming, or even fun games in teams could be a great way to incorporate this.

Children of age 10-12 years – At least one hour of moderate to intense activity every day. They can also include different sports such as tennis, football, etc while focusing on developing individual expertise.

Teens of age 13-17 years– All of the above activities including social activities where they will get to know more people and create bigger social circles and interpersonal skills. Interesting activities like biking, hiking, water sports like surfing, rowing and other team sports are some good examples for this age group. Group energy is a big motivator in getting consistent practice going.

Physical activity guidelines for chronic ailments

Parents can help their children with chronic illnesses like asthma, juvenile arthritis, hemophilia & low immunity by supporting their playtime, being present, moderating their activity daily, checking in with their medical supervisor on a regular basis about their progress, playing sports which are well structured and gradually increasing intensity only if they see their children are adapting to it or if their medical health provider so advises. Even walking, doing breathwork, helping carry groceries and doing light stretches can go a long way! 

Summary

Exercise plays a huge role in supporting immune function and must be done the right way for the right amount of time. Over-exertion and muscle fatigue are real. Give your child one day in the week to recover and recharge. There is no real substitute for the effort that you put into a fitness regime and maintaining this will give your child a deep sense of satisfaction and strength that comes from within.

The views expressed are that of the expert alone.

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