WHY CHILDREN SHOULD EXERCISE

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Physical activity is very important in the growth and development of a child. It has proven benefits in the physical and mental well being of children. Furthermore, encouraging physical activity in children can help establish a life long commitment to physical fitness and exercise.

Importance of exercise in the development of children.

Physical benefits of exercise include the following:

  • Physical activity increases the flow of blood to many organs of the body. This increase in oxygen supply assists in boosting the metabolism and will provide the child with more energy.
  • The increased blood flow helps the elimination process of wastes from body tissues. This also reduces a child’s susceptibility to some diseases.
  • The improved circulation of leucocytes, increases the immunity of the child, therefore making them less likely to catch colds and common febrile conditions.
  • Physical exercise improves the insulin sensitivity of the pancreas, thereby boosting the metabolism of glucose, and reducing susceptibility to type 2 diabetes later in life.
  • Continued physical activity increases muscle, bone and joint strength/health.
  • Obese children can be helped to shed some of their weight through a program of increased physical activity. This helps improve their body image.

Exercise also has some effects on the mental wellbeing of children.

  • Children who are physically active are more confident than those who are more sedentary.
  • Exercise increases a child’s self esteem and self image and allowing them to cope with challenges they face at school and in everyday life.
  • Regular physical activity increases there serotonin levels in the brain which will in turn improve mood and decrease the risk of depression.
  • It also has a direct beneficial effect on cognition and improves learning.
  • Children can learn the benefits of team work by engaging in group activities with other children.

How can children exercise?

It is recommended by authorities, that children spend at least one hour every day on some form of physical activity. The activities should include moderate to energetic aerobic exercise. There should also be activities tailored toward strengthening the muscles and bones. These should be engaged in at least three days each week.

There are many ways in which children can engage in physical activity each day. Time spent on the playground during breaks at school can help meet the child’s minimum needs for physical activity. Parents can also encourage physical activity in their children by taking them on walks, engaging in outdoor events with them, or just generally having fun together.

Summary

Physical activity and exercise has many benefits for children. It helps in their physical growth and development, and improves their self image. It also helps protect them from many disease conditions, and makes them learn better. Children can engage in physical activity at scheduled times at school. Parents can also encourage physical activity in their children.

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