Regular physical activity has a number of health benefits that we talk about often, but typically we’re talking about adults and how you can build a sustainable, healthy fitness lifestyle. Establishing healthy fitness routines is also important for children, as creating healthy exercise habits in childhood can lead to healthier, happier adulthoods.
For many of us, exercise can occasionally be a means to an end — to lose weight, to fit into clothing that’s become tight, or to look strong and fit for a big occasion. For children, the focus on physical activity should only be on the physical and mental benefits of regular exercise. Exercising helps kids grow strong bones and muscles, improves cardiovascular health and lung capacity, and can boost a child’s mood and improve concentration.
Physical Activity for Elementary-Aged Kids
For elementary-aged children, regular physical activity throughout the day is very important. It is recommended that children spend at least 60 minutes a day being moderately to vigorously physically active. Having the time and space to exercise and play helps children stay focused and energized in the classroom (or the Zoom room) and promotes lifelong health while preventing a number of health conditions.
As any parent knows, children grow like weeds and are continually getting taller, stronger, and gaining more fine and gross motor control. Exercise plays a big part in strengthening children’s bones as they grow, preventing health conditions like osteoporosis as they age. Activities that strengthen bone density include running, jumping, and other high-impact activities.
Exercise for Pre-Teens and Teenagers
While some pre-teens and teenagers have physical activity options like organized school sports and gym classes, many teenagers are not getting enough regular exercise. Regular exercise can play an important part in helping to regulate or alleviate symptoms of mental health disorders like anxiety and depression. Particularly for teenagers and older children, regular physical activity can be an important part of managing school and life stress during a time when mental health problems can begin.
Physical Activity and Online Learning
As schools have transitioned to partial or entirely online education, students are having to adapt in many ways to their new version of learning. One of the ways that many student’s schooling has suffered is from the lack of access to recess, organized sports, and scheduled time for physical activity.
As anyone who’s ever built up a habit of regularly exercising, having designated times for working out can make it easier to stick to your fitness goals. For children of any age, without specific times in their school schedules for physical activity, it’s easy for exercise to be forgotten. Adults and children alike are spending a large amount of time in front of computers, completing their daily tasks digitally, and may not be prioritizing the time needed to get up, move their bodies, and enjoy the benefits of exercise for health and happiness. It’s important for adults and parents to continue to make the time for physical activity in their children’s school and after-school schedules — and even join kids in the backyard for an active break.
Check out our blog for fitness ideas your whole family can enjoy together.