20 Oktober 2020 | Gesundheit

Mobile with a smile

Keeping your kids moving and active will have great overall benefits for their health.

Sharnay Botha



Children are naturally physically active and love to move around. Keeping them busy at home can be challenging, but burning off energy and staying active is crucial for their overall well-being. During early childhood, children grow and develop rapidly and quickly pick up new skills and habits. Parents can help teach a love of physical activity to their children. Doing so can set healthy patterns that will last into adulthood.

Over the last few years, it has become evident that children are becoming increasingly inactive. Due to children’s busy school schedules, lack of safe opportunities to exercise and increased time spent in front of screens like cell-phones, children spend less time being active. This has various physical and psychological effects. Some of these include an increased chance of being overweight, weaker muscles and bones, mood swings and anxiety. This has a negative influence on their self-esteem and academic performance.

Keeping children fit and active can do wonders for their overall health. There are many benefits of daily exercise for children. Your child won’t just notice the benefits and changes, but you will too.

Psychological benefits

Increases self-esteem

Improves confidence

Reduces stress and anxiety

Helps keep their mental state of mind healthy

Improves sleep

Physical benefits

Helps strengthen bones and muscles

Reduces the risk of obesity

Lower blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels

Improves sport skills and overall fitness

Increases energy levels

Improves balance, flexibility, coordination and strength.

Academic benefits

Improved concentration and attention in class

Increased flow of oxygen to the brain assists the ability to focus and learn

Improved memory

Social benefits

Provides opportunities to develop social skills and make friends.

Learn leadership skills

Learn teamwork skills.

Recommended physical activity

Young children should have opportunities to participate in a range of developmentally-appropriate, play-based activities and engage in quality sedentary time. The World Health Organisation provides guidelines for children of different ages, stating the recommended time they should spend being active as well as recommended time spent sedentary in front of any screen (cell-phone, TV or computer). These recommendations can be spread throughout the day.

• Children younger than one-year-old:

o 30 minutes of physical activity per day

o Limited or no screen time

• Children one to two years old:

o 180 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity per day

o Less than 60 minutes of sedentary screen time per day

• Children three to four years old:

o Spend at least 180 minutes in a variety of types of physical activities at any intensity, of which at least 60 minutes is moderate- to vigorous intensity

o Less than 60 minutes of sedentary screen time per day

• Children five years and older:

o 60 minutes of moderate - to vigorous-intensity physical activity daily

o Vigorous-intensity activities should be incorporated, including those that strengthen muscles and bones, at least three times per week

o Maximum of two hours of screen time per day.

Parents play a key role in helping their children become more physically active. The best way to encourage your child to be more active is to lead by example and instil a habit of exercise in them. Create opportunities for them to move and play freely and make time to exercise with them. The most important is to make it fun. This will teach your child that exercise is enjoyable.

For ideas and tips to get your child moving, have a look at the next page!

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