As a teacher, taking away academic time and time to teach is challenging. As a parent, taking away an iPad or TV giving you much needed time out after a hard day at the office is not always first choice. Taking time as an adult, in our already packed lives to create time for play is a hard sell. Here is why making more time is so important;

1. Exercise lowers the risk of Obesity

Only 60 minutes of play and activity a day lowers the risk of obesity in children.

Nearly 1 out of 4 children and teens in developed countries are overweight or obese due to lack of exercise and activity. Keep the iPads, TV and screen time to a minimum. Those extra kilograms put kids at risk for developing serious health problems, including diabetes, heart disease, and asthma. Childhood obesity has also proven to take a an emotional toll on children.

2. Exercise Increases Brain Power in Maths and Reading

14 Studies has shown that children who spend more time doing physical activity perform better in academics and learning. One US test program at Naperville Central High School powerfully illustrated this point two years ago. Students who participated in a dynamic morning exercise program nearly doubled their reading scores while math scores increased 20-fold.

3. Exercise Increase Body (Physical) and Brain (cognitive) Synchronisation Development

This is the most important at a very young age when the brain and body starts to get to know each other. In simple terms, it is the way the child learns and interacts with his or her environment. Milestones are reached (almost like a tv game), to reach the next level the child has to first acquire the necessary skills.

Here are 10 easy ways you can help your child’s cognitive development

4. Playing increases the amount of sensory input your child experiences

Proprioceptive Sense s the ability to interpret where your body parts are in relation to each other. It uses information from nerves and sheaths on the muscles and bones to inform about the position and movement of body through muscles contracting, stretching, bending, straightening, pulling and compressing. There are seven sensory inputs you can read more about them here.

5.  Active children are more likely to become active adults

Various studies has shown that children who are active and take part in sport are more likely to stay active at an older age. Encourage your children to get active at a young age to set the trend for a healthy future. This is one of the best habits you can encourage in your child.

6. Frequent exercise decreases symptoms of depression and anxiety in children

Very much like adults, physical activity prevents anxiety and depression in children. The type of exercise we are talking about her is moderate to vigorous, they need to at least break a sweat or be out of breath.

Your child’s mental health can improve with regular physical activity. In addition to reducing levels of anxiety and stress, exercise has the potential power to improve your child’s self-esteem, enhance mood and decrease symptoms of depression. The latter especially holds true for children with developmental disabilities and emotional disorders. Reports by Bright Futures, Georgetown University’s health promotion initiative for children

7. Regular exercise with children promotes self-efficacy with regard to health and self-image

Whether you think that you can or that you can’t, you are usually right.” Henry Ford

Self efficacy is, the believe and “know” in yourself that you can do something and the perseverance to carry on until you ARE able to do it. We all want our children to grow up with this mentality, and keeping kids active can help implement that.

There are four main pillars children use to determine their self-image:

  • Competence (or how good am I at this?)

If children are active their bodies develop and they are able to reach milestones and complete tasks. This creates a feeling of praise and knowing that they achieving what they have set out to do at any age.

  • Social acceptance (or do other kids like me?)

Because exercise is fun and helps kids to develop they are able to take part in more social activities, eg playing at pre-school and kid-friendly restaurants as well as other social settings. This gives the child the confidence to make friends and learn how to socialise.

  • Feelings of control over their own life and actions, and moral self-worth (or am I good enough? is this a good thing to do or a bad thing to do?)

This applies to all kids who are still learning. You can teach children behavioural patterns while playing a game for example; how not to act when they don’t get their way, how to play fairly, sharing and filters down to taking things which does not belong to them.

As you can see exercise and frequent activity for kids is critical to their ability to develop into happy, healthy, active adults. Do you accept the challenge?