Everyone knows keeping active is important for wellbeing, but just what are the benefits for kids? We reveal the top 9 ways your kids will benefit from regular exercise.
1. Exercise strengthens their heart: The heart is a muscle and just like other muscles, regular physical activity makes it stronger. A stronger heart functions more efficiently and performs better, increasing blood flow to all tissues in the body, including the brain. Greater blood flow increases the amount of oxygen and nutrients delivered to cells in the body, giving your kids more energy to play for longer.
2. Exercise strengthens their lungs: Running, jumping and playing in the park increases kid’s lung capacity and their ability to move air in and out of the body. This means more oxygen is drawn into the body and more carbon dioxide and other gases are expelled. More efficient lungs work as a great natural detoxifier eliminating waste products from the body.
3. Exercise strengthens their muscles: Physical activity strengthens muscles and keeps them flexible, allowing muscles to move more easily through their full range of motion. Stronger muscles help protect joints and are less prone to injury. They also help kids perform better when playing sport or mastering the cartwheel in the backyard.
4. Exercise builds strong and healthy bones: Jumping, running and other weight-bearing activities places stress on kid’s bones and makes bones stronger. Childhood and teenage years are the most important time to build bone, as peak bone mass (the maximum strength and density of bones) is not reached until early 20s. Simple activities that kids love like skipping, jumping, running and dancing all load the bones, strengthening them and keeping them healthy.
5. Exercise improves motor skills: Motor skills enable kids to perform everyday tasks as well as climb in the playground or throw a ball. Both fine (small movements using small muscles such as picking up food) and gross motor skills (bigger movements that involve large muscles) are improved with exercise. Enjoying playgrounds and walking or climbing over unstable surfaces require a lot of effort and increase overall body strength, which will help your child develop the strength and endurance to manage the physical needs of a full day at school. This type of play can also assist with balance and improve a child’s ability to respond to changes in the environment around them.
6. Exercise improves their focus and learning: Keeping active gets the blood pumping and improves blood flow to the brain. This means more oxygen gets to the brain, helping to keep your kids focused. Keeping active also increases the size of the hippocampus in the brain, boosting memory and a child’s ability to learn new things. This equates to better performance at school.
7. Exercise boosts mood: Exercise affects chemicals in the brain. It releases endorphins, which are natural stress fighters, creating feelings of happiness. Regular exercise also helps kids fall asleep faster and they tend to have better quality sleep. Well-rested kids are usually happier and have improved judgement.
8. Exercise boosts their immune system: Keeping active has a positive effect on the immune system. Research suggests that during moderate exercise, immune cells circulate through the body more quickly and are more equipped to kill bacteria and viruses. While the immune system returns to normal within a few hours after the exercise session, consistent, regular physical activity seems to make these immune system changes last a bit longer. A stronger immune system is definitely a win when it comes to kids.
9. Exercise boosts their self-esteem: Exercise is fun and is great for boosting self-confidence, particularly when kids learn to do something new like jump, hop or skip. Keeping active is a great way for kids to become aware of just what their body can do and this appreciation for just how amazing their body is helps kids build a positive body image.