Play allows children to use their creativity while developing their imagination, dexterity, physical, cognitive, and emotional strength. It is through play that children engage and interact in the world around them. Play allows children to create and explore a world they can master, conquering their fears while practising adult roles, sometimes in conjunction with other children or adult caregivers. As they master their world, play helps children develop new competencies that lead to enhanced confidence and the resiliency they will need to face future challenges. Undirected play allows children to learn how to work in groups, to share, to negotiate, to resolve conflicts, and to learn self-advocacy skills.
Children if allowed to play outdoors are usually very active and they actively exercise every muscle group unlike adults. In addition to the obvious benefits of a healthy body, each kind of physical activity the child indulges in is connected to a higher level skill in the intellect. For example, crawling is associated with the ability to read and the ability to climb increases the ability to plan, estimate and solve problems.
Ideally children need about an hour of outdoor play every day. If need not be a regimental drill and it can always be a fun time game or activity.
The best way to get children to exercise is a 5 step programme:
Most of the adults think exercise as doing a work out at the gym, running on a thread mill, or lifting weights. But for kids, exercise means playing and being physically active. Exercise can help in developing the kid’s mind. It can help in stimulating the kid’s creativity and thoughts. Exercise gives more oxygen to your brain. And that means the kids can think better. Exercise may:
Parents should make sure that their kids get enough exercise. Research proves that a kid or a teen should get a minimum of 60 minutes or more of physical activity daily. The National Association for Sport and Physical Education offers these activity guidelines for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers:
|AGE||MINIMUM DAILY ACTIVITY||COMMENTS|
|Infant||No specific requirements||Physical activity should encourage motor development|
|Toddler||1½ hours||30 minutes planned physical activity AND 60 minutes unstructured physical activity (free play)|
|Preschooler||2 hours||60 minutes planned physical activity AND 60 minutes unstructured physical activity (free play)|
|School age||1 hour or more||Break up into bouts of 15 minutes or more|
Children are healthier and more confident when they exercise regularly because the brain secretes endorphins when they exercise regularly. Endorphins boost immunity, create happy emotions and are responsible in many ways for creativity and effective performance. Regular exercise controls epidemics like childhood obesity that is now a lifestyle disease.
Remember that growing children need good, well balanced nutrition; children need not be put on diets to lose weight. They need a balance in the nutrients entering their body and optimal exercise on a regular basis for a healthy lifestyle. Stop focussing on looking good; rather focus on being healthy, fit and active.