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February 19th, 2013

Courtesy of Children need be active in order to grow and develop, and some of the health and social problems we see with children today can be explained by sedentary lifestyles, where children spend most of their time seated in a car or in front of the television. Children under five should be doing at least three hours of physical activity each day once they can walk, and children over five should be doing at least one hour. There are many different types of exercise for children and these can be as formal as a weekly class, or as informal as flying a kite, playing with a balloon, dancing around the kitchen to a favourite song, or swinging from a tree branch in the garden. Physical activity gives children the chance to explore the world and learn more about themselves, while increasing their self confidence and helping to maintain good health. Here are the different types of exercise that children need to grow and develop:

  • Aerobic exercise includes walking, dancing, or riding a bike. The idea of simply going for a walk might not be appealing to many children, but if you turn it into a treasure hunt it becomes much more exciting. Choose your treasure depending on the season. Hunt for spring flowers in March, juicy blackberries in autumn, or holly for Christmas decoration during the winter. Active play, such as playing hide and seek, can count as aerobic exercise for young children.
  • Muscle strengthening exercise such as climbing and gymnastics are the types of activities that will help your child to develop strong muscles. There are plenty of great gymnastics classes around that are aimed at young children and will teach balance as well as increasing strength. However, you child will also get muscle strengthening benefit from climbing trees or the climbing frame in your local playground or soft play centre.
  • Bone strengthening exercises include high impact activities such as running, skipping, and playing football, volleyball, or tennis. Arrange fun races in the park with a group of friends, buy your child a skipping rope and teach them to use it, or enrol them in an age appropriate team sport such as under fives football to help them develop strong bones.

There are some specific types of physical activity that are particularly beneficial for your children and can help them to develop in a variety of ways. Swimming is a fantastic form of exercise from those first mother and baby sessions through to armband-free swimming lessons. Swimming teaches essential safety skills, independence, and co-ordination, as well as providing a low impact, full body workout. Martial arts are another excellent form of activity for children as they can teach them awareness of their bodies and physical and emotional control, as well as providing valuable exercise. When you’re looking for activities to keep your little ones moving, make sure they are appropriate for the age and development level of your child. Look for something that they enjoy as they’re more likely to stick with it, even if that means trying a huge variety of different activities before you discover the one they like best.

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