How much physical activity do children really need?

Physical activity is extremely important for children’s health, development and growth.

In 2016, 9.3% of four to five year olds in England were classed as obese and one if five ten to eleven year olds, according to the National Measurement Programme (NCMP).

Why is this alarming?

The data is shocking because of the health implications linked to obesity such as heart disease (and list a few more). Not only it increases children’s risk to physical diseases but it is likely that mental health issues surface as well.

Obesity in children can create problems such as bullying, depression, self-harm, eating disorders and low levels of self-esteem. Although, we believe that children should be encouraged to accept themselves and own their flaws. They should be encouraged to improve themselves physically and emotionally to become the champions that they are.

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So, what is the recommended daily physical activity for children?

According to the NHS, the recommended daily physical activity for 5 -18 year olds is at least 60 minutes.

Children and young people need aerobic training such as running, dancing, cycling and swimming. However, they also benefit from more intense workouts such as jumping and intense sports.

Encouraging children to start exercising at an early age will result in promoting good habits or rituals that can help with their development as adults.

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Physical activity and its benefits for children and young people 

Enhances emotional well-being. The link between exercise and mood is extremely strong. Endorphins that are released during physical activity play an important role in preventing and overcoming depression, anxiety and low self-esteem. Exercising and sports boost the way children feel and normally they also feel a sense of pride and achievement once they learn new skills. In turn, children are more likely to develop resilience and a higher perception of their identity.

Improves memory and concentration. More hippocampal neurons that located in the hippocampus are generated when we exercise. These neurons are linked to memory and especially long-term memory. Also, exercise enhance cognition because of blood flow. As research shows, blood pressure and blood flow increases, to all parts in the body and the brain. In turn, the brain becomes more efficient. 

Weight management. This is an important factor in society at the moment. Exercise and sports will encourage children to enjoy physical activity and prevent the risk of health issues. Also, children will enjoy of a better digestion system and exercising over 60 minutes per day, they will burn more calories than their calorie intake.

Improving physical health. Sport and physical activity strengthens bones, lunges and the heart. Just as muscles will grow stronger, bones will respond by getting stronger. The heart is a muscle and its performance improves with regular exercise.  And the same, lungs increase their capacity and efficiency in moving air in and out of the body when worked harder. 

Enhances motor skills. Balance, reaction time, agility, coordination, speed and power. Training to improve motor skills will require different and specific activities. Coordination improves as a result of learning and mastering new movements. Young athletes will develop their skills quicker. However, it is important to allow plenty of rest in between training sessions to increase performance.

Let’s support the development of children from an early age. Encouraging them to explore different sports and activities will not only help them to get in their best physical form but it will give them invaluable skills required for success.

One of the reason why we created and developed our workshops is exactly this. In order to support schools and parents, to inspire these little humans to become healthier and happier!