Encouraging physical activity among children is essential. Childhood is the crucial phase for development, it is during this period that we expand our physical, motor, behavioral and cognitive capacity.
Stimulating children during this phase makes all the difference, and physical activity in childhood plays an essential role in this development. Several modalities can be explored as physical activity for children, as long as they respect the limitations and guidelines for each age. Find out how to do this.
What are the benefits of physical activity for children?
The benefits are many. And according to the Manual of Physical Activities of the Brazilian Society of Pediatrics, encouraging physical activity in childhood and adolescence helps fight obesity for life.
This is because, in addition to contributing to a more active life, the tendency is for children to adopt this habit also in adulthood. Exercising in childhood also helps in maintaining cardiovascular health, strengthening bones, muscles and joints, and metabolism, increasing insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance, for example.
But it doesn’t stop there, encouraging physical activity in children helps not only improve physical health and prevent sedentary lifestyle, but are also important tools for emotional, motor and cognitive progress, as well as helping with self-esteem and socialization.
The importance of physical activity for childhood development
The importance is not limited only to the prevention of sedentary lifestyle and obesity.
The social and emotional aspects are also benefited by the regular practice of physical activity, it promotes well-being, helps with body language, stimulates creativity, promotes socialization, develops affective and intellectual capacity, improves learning results, contributes with self-esteem and minimizes the chances of depression and diseases related to a sedentary lifestyle, helps in motor development and improves posture and balance.
Physical exercises for every age of the child
Children up to 2 years
From the first months it is important to encourage physical activity, so that crawling and walking are developed in children up to 2 years old. Even before starting to crawl, it is important to encourage being active, reaching for objects, holding, pulling and pushing.
When children are already learning to walk, it should be encouraged during the day to day routine. Promoting activities or games where little ones need to take steps, or need to stand, is a great way to stimulate.
Ideally, it should be at least 180 minutes spread throughout the day. If it’s not possible, no problem, the important thing is not to encourage sedentary behaviors for too long during the day.
The exposure of children under 2 years of age to screens is a warning point. For this age, these visual stimuli should not be provided at any time.
Children from 3 to 5 years
The development of motor coordination should be the main thing, for this, children’s physical activity should be included in the daily routine, at least 180 minutes. It is worth investing in sports such as swimming, dancing, wrestling and football.
That’s why moms and dads should always encourage practice and make sure their kids get good use out of them. It is important that the time spent in front of screens should still be limited, to avoid sedentary behavior. The less time spent in front of screens, the better the child’s development.
Children from 6 years to adolescentes
They can intensify physical exercises, allocating at least 60 minutes daily of moderate physical activity. Cycling, running and swimming are some of the options on offer.
It is also important to promote some type of more intense physical activity three times a week. Some activities help in the development and strengthening of muscles and bones, and others serve to improve flexibility and joints.
Children’s physical activity can be stimulated through play such as jumping, pushing, pulling and supporting or supporting body weight activities. TVs, tablets and cell phones during leisure time should be used sparingly, preferably limited to two hours a day.
The role of parents in child physical activity
There is no denying the importance of parents in children’s development, and children’s physical activity is part of this process. Those who take care of the little ones daily should always encourage the practice of physical activities, ensuring the positive effects on their development.
Although there are guidelines for each age, it is the role of mothers and fathers to analyze whether the modality is adequate and pleasurable, considering individual aspects of the child and adolescent.
The Department of Nutrology of the Brazilian Society of Pediatrics suggests some advice for the promotion of physical activity in children and adolescents, such as encouraging physical activity in children through play during leisure time, seeking alternative ways to reduce the time spent with screens during leisure time, avoiding a sedentary lifestyle, also avoiding television and computer in the children’s room, seeking the recreational aspects of children’s sports activities, without an exclusive focus on positive results, opting for walking and cycling in suitable and safe paths.
Thus, you promote physical exercise, encourage the use of healthy and sustainable means of transport from childhood, encourage the child’s participation in physical activities within the school, encourage the participation, in groups, of children and adolescents with physical fitness limitations and not accept any type of exclusion, including those with physical disabilities.
Regardless of the chosen one, all physical activity generates positive balances for the body and mind of children, so it must be included from the first months of life.
Moms and dads should always encourage and moderate this practice, analyzing whether it is adequate, profitable and satisfying to fulfill their main goals, which are child development and children’s fun.