Live Better
 
 

How exercise can transform your child’s life

Establishing good health and activity habits early may have long term learning and health benefits.

Exercise can help children develop fundamental motor skills and stay healthy.

In the past few years there has been a lot of media coverage about the escalating numbers of children who are overweight, inactive and risk long-term health problems. In addition, children who are behind their peers in physical development when they start school are more likely to face social, emotional and academic challenges.

Will regular exercise in the first years of life make a difference?

Unfortunately the rising number of children who are overweight is more than just statistics on a page. Worldwide statistics reveal that there has been a dramatic rise in childhood obesity in the past 20 years, and Australian children are not exempt. The latest research indicates that children who begin school with delayed physical development risk school failure and children who are obese risk chronic health problems in later life. The risk is compounded if a child’s stress levels are elevated, perhaps by years of unkind teasing at school by peers. As a result, experts agree that these issues have become a major health priority both nationally and internationally.

What can parents do?

It is evident that good health habits and regular physical activity established during the early years is likely to have long term benefits to both learning and health.

In order to combat the rising concerns over poor health in children, most experts recommend that children eat a healthy diet and engage in 60 – 90 minutes of daily exercise. A large proportion of children’s physical activity is incorporated in their daily life: in their playing, general activities, recreation, sport and family life. Exercise should include moderate intensity, continuous sustained bouts of physical activity and activity that reinforces a range of fundamental motor skills. Sedentary behaviours, such as watching television and playing computer games, should be reduced.

Exercise can begin from birth. Tummy time is a great contributor to muscle strength and the development of fundamental movement skills. Once crawling, babies should be involved in a range of movement opportunities that allow them to safely engage with and explore their environment.

Toddlers need to be involved in exercise that is sustained, prolonged, and where movement is not restricted. The local park provides a great open space for running on the grass, exploring the gardens, swinging, spinning and tumbling over.

Two to five year olds should have the opportunity to participate in 30-45 minutes of structured physical activity daily as well as an hour of unstructured physical activity both indoors and outdoors.

Regular exercise ensures children stay fit, healthy and develop the fundamental motor skills essential for functional movement and learning in the classroom. It is a key ingredient to a happy, successful and healthy life.

For more information, Dr Jane Williams suggests reading Smart Start: how exercise can transform your child’s life by Margaret Sassé.
Find out more about exercise for kids at Gymbaroo.

Latest Articles

Exercise

How to start riding or walking to work

Fit exercise into your day on the way to work.

Read more
Exercise

Why women should do weights

Strength training isn’t just for muscle bros.

Read more
Exercise

Why getting active as a family is so good for you

From a weekend bike ride to playing chasey in the backyard.

Read more
Experts

What are Kegels?

And why you need to do them.

Read more
Exercise

How sport can inspire recovery and connection

Jocelyn takes aim at the Invictus Games Sydney 2018.

Read more
youtubeui-checkbox-tickui-checkbox-emptyui-checkbox-crosstwitterui-checkbox-tickWellbeing and mindfulness 1Physical Health 1Positive psychology 101 1Wellbeing and mindfulness 4All about gut health 1Understanding Genetics 4Planning for Pregnancy 2During Pregnancy 3The mind-gut connection 4The mind-gut connection 1New Parents 3Page 1Group 10During Pregnancy 2Page 1Physical Health 2Planning for Pregnancy 1Positive psychology 101 1Positive psychology 101 4Planning for Pregnancy 4Understanding Genetics 1Physical Health 4Planning for Pregnancy 3Nutrition 4New Parents 1New Parents 3 CopyMovement for your mind 4Wellbeing and mindfulness 2Nutrition 2sob-icon__mind-bodysob-icon__man-with-laptopAll about gut health 2Positive psychology 101 3Positive psychology 101 2Physical Health 3Wellbeing and mindfulness 3All about gut health 3genetics-changing-what-your-givenUnderstanding Genetics 2During Pregnancy 1Movement for your mind 2Movement for your mind 1Movement for your mind 3During Pregnancy 4