Play vs Exercise

December 2020
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Play vs Exercise: Encouraging Children to be Fit and Healthy

Fresh air and movement are vital for the well-being and growth of children, however certain games are also key in education and developing social skills. It’s important for children to partake in play and exercise. What might not be apparent is that climbing to the top of a slide or swinging from the monkey bars can help lead children to a lifetime of being active. Which is better for keeping children mentally and physically fit and healthy?

Studies show that play is incredibly beneficial for children to learn and develop skills, but it's also a means for physical fitness. Childs play encourages creativity, as well as emotional and physical development. Structured play for your children can include role-playing or games with balls and frisbees. Allowing your children to play freely in the outdoors, specifically at playgrounds, will also encourage movement. Any game played in the outdoors will promote an active lifestyle and test physical limits.

Exercise can often be considered a chore as we get older, so it’s important to ensure that fitness for children is fun. This will encourage the development of healthy habits, and your children will be more inclined to partake in voluntary physical exercise as they grow older. Regular exercise will benefit your children by building strong muscles and bones, assisting with weight control, decreasing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and will release endorphins for a healthy mindset. Better sleep and a stronger outlook on life are also advantages of regular exercise. Arranging physically demanding activities will shape your child’s athletic abilities.

Physically active children are also more likely to be motivated, successful and focused in school.

1. Choosing the right activities for a child's age: If not, the child may be bored or frustrated.

2. Giving children plenty of opportunity to be active: Children need adults to make activity easy by providing equipment, signing them up for classes or sports teams, and taking them to playgrounds and other active spots.

3. Keeping the focus on fun: Children won't do something they don't enjoy.

The best way for children to get physical activity is by incorporating physical activity into their daily routine. Toddlers should play actively several times a day. Children 6 to 17 years should do 60 minutes or more physical activity daily. This can include free play at home, active time at school, and participation in classes or organized sports. When children enjoy an activity, they want to do more of it. Practicing a skill improves their abilities and helps them feel accomplished, especially when the effort is noticed and praised. These good feelings often make children want to continue the activity.

So which is better for your children? Play and exercise go hand-in-hand, especially for children. It’s important to ensure you’re associating exercise with fun from an early age. Find physical activities for children that are enjoyable, rather than overly strenuous with little reward. This can include playing modified team sports, dancing to music, biking adventures, hopscotch or tag. Combining playtime with exercise is highly beneficial for learning, social skills and fitness for children.

Studies show that play is incredibly beneficial for children to learn and develop skills but it's also a means for physical fitness

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