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Keep the kids moving

Keep the kids moving

By Ayesha Wentworth
Clinical Psychologist.

Running, jumping and any form of exercise is a gateway to a healthy life for children of all ages, just as a healthy diet is a fundamental part of a child’s physical growth. Not of course forgetting a loving home and plenty of fun as well.

It all helps to make a happy child. Most children are very active, little balls of energy that can’t quite ever seem to sit still and focus on whichever task is before them. However, over the years, more and more children are becoming obese, enthralled by computer games, smartphones and screen time. With schools focused on very full academic curricula, school sports activities also seem to be waning.

This has major repercussions on their overall development. Especially now during times of COVID-19 it is even more difficult to keep kids motivated and moving.

Exercise and sports are essential in developing a good physical foundation from a young age and helps build healthy bone mass and density. It also makes kids more flexible, makes their bodies more resilient and less prone to injury and heal quicker.

These are all great benefits that the youth might not think about, but they only get one body, the stronger and healthier it is…the longer they will be able to enjoy it far into adulthood.

For younger children, physical activity during playtime helps to develop essential motor skills, which in turn helps them master the basic movements they need for everyday life. The development of a child’s motor skills means that basic tasks such as feeding oneself, tying shoelaces and even writing can be attained much faster.

The benefits of exercise don’t end there, there’s the weight management advantage as well. Childhood obesity is a real problem globally and leads to health issues in the long-term and often adult obesity as well. Being physically overweight also has other implications that can have a major impact on a child’s life, well-being and overall development.

Children that are overweight are often made fun of and bullied by other children and even adults and teachers. This affects their self-esteem and can cause major long term mental health issues. It cannot be overstated enough how essential exercise and sports are for children in managing weight issues. We all want our children to be smart, successful and academic high flyers, but to make them well-rounded adults one needs to start with their physical well-being.

At present it isn’t always easy to ensure that kids get the exercise they need, especially with social distancing and school closures. The holistic education of a child should include physical exercise and sports. It will never be a waste of time and actually during exercise, nerve cells in the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex of the brain are triggered to multiply and form new connections. This results in improved concentration and a better memory, which are traits that will definitely serve a school-going child’s academic needs well.

All the developmental benefits of exercise have a significant impact on a child’s long-term health. The physical, mental and emotional benefits derived from exercise will prepare a child well for their teenage and adult years. It’s one of the most important gifts that parents and educators can bestow on a child.


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A Guest Contributor is any of a number of experts who contribute articles and columns under their own respective names. They are regarded as authorities in their disciplines, and their work is usually published with limited editing only. They may also contribute to other publications. - Ed.