Nowadays, it is not uncommon to see children as young as two years old using hand-held devices such as mobile phones and tablets for most hours of the day. This is especially evident in the past few weeks as children are at home and have no choice but to use their devices to connect to the outside world and do schoolwork. Even though these technologies come with many benefits, it is no match for the benefits physical activity have for children’s health, development and well-being.
Therefore, it is important for parents to encourage their children to be more active and incorporate physical activities in their daily routine. Here are five amazing benefits of physical play!
1. Improves cardiovascular health
Heart health can be strengthened from a young age! Children are encouraged to take part in some sort of physical activity each day that gets the heart rate up. These activities include skipping, jumping and dancing! Parents can also make daily exercise a fun daily activity to do together. There are plenty of workout videos online families can follow along at home to work up a sweat. The most important thing is to get children moving! Consistent exercise will contribute to overall heart health. Good cardiovascular health is important to prevent heart disease, reduce stress, increase energy, improve digestion and promote good sleep.
2. Improves social skills
Participating in physical play can lead to the development of good social and interpersonal skills. Children who are active in outdoor games and team sports have the opportunity to learn important skills such as teamwork, leadership and empathy. In addition, children will also make new friends through joining these activities. Besides that, taking part in competitive sports can lead to a sense of achievement, higher confidence levels and a boost in self-esteem. These skills and traits are important and beneficial as children get older.
3. Stimulates brain development
Did you know physical play can stimulate brain development in children? Firstly, exercise increases the flow of blood to the brain, which provides it with more oxygen and glucose. These are key components for improving alertness and mental focus. Physical activities that involve balance such as yoga also encourage spatial and mental awareness which help develop the framework for academic skills. Next, proprioceptive activities – intense exercises that focus on specific muscles, has the ability to boost working memory which is essential for learning and doing well in school. Lastly, exercise encourages the growth of new brain cells.
4. Improves emotional well-being
Not only does physical play promote strength and good health, it plays an important part in ensuring good emotional well-being and mental health. Physical activity is known for producing endorphins (happy hormones) that improve mood and boost confidence. In addition, children who exercise may feel more energetic throughout the day and feel more positive about themselves and the world around them. Exercise is also a natural medicine to combat mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression. It allows individuals to break free from the cycle of negative thoughts and distract themselves from the stresses of daily life.
5. Encourages an active lifestyle
Children, especially toddlers, require around three hours of physical activity each day. Parents can incorporate this with easy, stay-at-home games such as balloon badminton, newspaper hockey and musical chairs. For a great weekend activity, parents can get creative by preparing obstacle courses using objects lying around the house. In addition, parents should encourage children to go outside and get some sun – even if it’s in the back garden or balcony. Bouncy castles and inflatable toys are also a fun way to get little ones moving!
This article is adapted from 4 Reasons Why Kids Should Choose Physical Play Over Handheld Gadgets by Dr. Shen-Li Lee.
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