Why Do Children Need to Exercise?
We are often told that kids need to spend less time on their computers/screens and get outside and exercise more. The Australian Government recommend that children aged between 5-12 years should perform at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per day, and participate in resistance training at least three times a week.
But do children really need to exercise? They may walk to school, play with their friends at break times, and have a particular sport they participate in on the week end … you may be thinking isn’t this enough?
While this is a great starting point, there are several reasons why it is important for kids to engage in more structured moderate to vigorous exercise during childhood:
1- Decrease the risk of obesity and chronic health conditions. Promoting exercise in childhood lowers a child’s risk of developing chronic conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease later in life, as well as helping to develop healthy life long habits from a young age.
2- Develop strong bones and muscles. Resistance or strength training commenced early in life promotes improved bone density and lowers the risk of conditions, such as osteoporosis as children age. Importantly, strength training does not mean lifting heavy weights in a gym setting. Instead, children should be encouraged to participate in activities such as running, jumping and skipping which place increased pressure on the bones and muscles.
3- Reduce the chance of injury. Regular movement and activity decreases the chance of injuries related to sedentary and sustained postures (e.g. from sitting at a computer), as well as improving muscle strength to protect joints and ligaments.
4- Improved self-esteem and body image. Regular exercise and participation in team sports has been shown to result in an increased sense of self-esteem, body image and the development of long lasting friendships.
How do I Encourage my Child to be Active?
- Place an emphasis on fun, and find an activity that your child enjoys. Some sports / activities that you may not have thought of include taekwondo, gymnastics, surf life saving / nippers, and indoor rock climbing and trampolining.
- Get creative and become active with your child, whether it is playing in the park, taking them to the pool or dancing to music.
- Find ways to include incidental exercise in to your everyday life. For example, leave the car at home and walk to school with your child, or ride your bike to the park.
- When the time is right consider introducing your child to a sport or structured activity to build friendships and teamwork skills.
If you have any questions on ways to get your child active, or on how much / what type of exercise they should be performing please email [email protected].
Jay is a Physiotherapist and the Co-Owner and Director at Gecko Sports Gold Coast Central.
Find more information about Gecko Sports at www.geckosports.com.au
You can reach out to Jay by email at [email protected]