It seems as if the days of kids playing ball in the local streets have gone. Gone are the casual groups of youngsters riding their bikes around the neighbourhood. Kids were allowed to, in fact, expected to go out to play with their friends. However, this is not "normal" anymore. The obvious marker to this is the rise in childhood obesity statistics. But that is not the only thing to consider, how else is a child’s overall health and wellbeing affected?
Yes, we know physical activities are great for the body, but what about your concentration levels, spatial awareness, stress relief and so much more? This question is true for both adults as well as for children. Activities like skipping, running, climbing a tree, throwing a ball, digging a hole, swinging on ropes and even swimming are vital for children.
It’s good for them.
When your child is physically playing, they are essentially exercising. These movements, resistances and physically stresses activate muscles, bones, and joints. Nerves are being stimulated, blood is pumping and their organs are working to keep up. These forms of work and strain are excellent ways to build healthier bodies which ultimately results in longer healthier lives for our children.
Let’s get social.
Many forms of physical activities promote social interaction. Competition, comradery and teamwork and self-regulation and discipline. Not just the formal team sports for older children, but every age group benefits from playing physically together.
Here is an example of what could happen in a sandpit: There could be competition in who can dig the biggest hole. Sometimes this leads to learning to deal with someone being better or even learning to try harder. Or sometimes we learn to be a work as a team to make a big hole quicker and better as a team. Sometimes someone does things we don’t like in the sandpit, like throwing sand and how we express that is an important learning opportunity.
Any parent or career that has watched children in a sandpit can agree that a lot more goes on than simply digging holes.
It helps with sleep.
Feeling of sleep deprived as a parent is par for the course. Want your kids to sleep more? Simple, let them move more. In general, children that are more physically active have deeper sleep cycles than their non-moving counterparts.
But aside from you as a parent getting more down time, why is this important? A huge number or repair functions happen during deep sleep. Physically, the body is hard at work repairing the body from a hard day at play, but more importantly is the lower levels of brain repair works that go on during deep sleep. If you would like your child to have better concentration skills, more focus and be emotionally stable, then sleep is needed. More exercise better sleep.
There are loads of articles on it, but here are two to consider;
Better school results
There is a huge amount of evidence that shows that physically active children performed better at school. Even increasing a child’s physical activity by just a short amount each day can improve their academic results. With the links to sleeping benefits, it is easy to believe but there is more to it. There is a stress relief function to playing with balls, running, climbing and exhorting one's self. When your child is exercising, they are given an opportunity to release their anger and frustrations. They learn skills in focus, managing challenges and apply one's efforts to get a result.
Hard to believe, here is what the experts say
It’s so much fun!
When a child exercises, they will tend to have better self-esteem and be more confident. Why?
They feel physically and emotionally better. They can concentrate and get better results in all aspects of their life. They are better socially as they are more emotional level and have had an opportunity to interact socially. They feel good about themselves all round because of the physical activity. And sure, they might even look better, but that really is only a small part of getting kids active.