Exercising is a good way to burn calories and improve your overall health. But what about exercising with children? Children may be more resistant than adults to weight loss, which means that they need to work harder in order to achieve the same results.
If you’re concerned about the effect of exercise on your child’s development, it’s important to understand how exercise affects children’s physical growth and mental health in general. Here are some reasons why exercise is important for kids:
Weight loss and exercising
You might think that exercise would have little or no effect on a young child’s weight because they don’t yet have much fat mass. However, many studies show that even very young children are affected by their diet. For example, one study found that 2-year-olds who were given an extra 150 calories per day through increased food intake gained 4 pounds over the course of a year. In contrast, when the same children’s calorie intake was reduced by 500 calories per day, they lost 5 pounds over the course of a year.
This indicates that while children under the age of 5 aren’t likely to lose as much weight as adults do from exercise alone, even small amounts of exercise can make a difference. It also suggests that any weight loss should start early, before your child’s energy needs increase substantially.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), most children gain between 1/2 pound and 5 pounds between ages 2 and 6 years old. This means that if you start exercising your child at age 3 or 4, you could help them avoid the weight gains that come with being overweight at such a young age.
Exercise doesn’t just affect weight; it has been shown to have beneficial effects on blood pressure and cholesterol levels as well. These benefits mean that exercising your child will reduce the risk of heart disease later in life. Studies have also shown that regular exercise helps children develop and maintain healthy bone structure, which is especially important since bones grow faster in younger children.
While there isn’t enough research available to definitively state whether or not exercise improves children’s mental health, there are several factors that suggest it does.
For instance, a 2013 study showed that after only two months of exercising, 2nd-graders’ attention span improved by 13%. Another study found that children who exercised regularly experienced improvements in self-esteem, social skills, and academic performance. If you believe that exercise will improve your child’s behavior, consider joining a local gym, taking them swimming lessons, or having them play sports outside.
Developing motor skills
Motor skill development is often thought of as something that happens during childhood, but it actually begins much earlier. A 2012 study found that children’s ability to track moving objects with their eyes develops around age three. They then learn to walk around age five, and run around age seven.
These milestones are the same ones that many parents use to determine when a child is “walking.” While this is helpful information, it’s important to remember that each child progresses at his own pace, so don’t wait longer than necessary to introduce new exercises into your child’s schedule.
The sooner your child starts developing motor skills, the better off he’ll be later in life. This is true not only for physical development, but also for cognitive and emotional development. Motor skills help children develop coordination, balance, and spatial awareness, all of which are essential to learning. The more time that a child spends practicing these skills, the more likely he is to excel in school and throughout society.
Just like exercising for adults, exercising with children helps strengthen muscles and bones, reduces stress, and promotes overall health. Physical activity also provides children with opportunities to learn about movement, teamwork, and teamwork.
Exercise is a great way to teach your child to get rid of bad habits, like playing video games instead of reading books, or watching TV rather than interacting with friends. As your child becomes older, you’ll want him to continue enjoying physical activities such as sports, dancing, and hiking, and to build up a habit of daily activity.
Exercising outdoors allows children to experience nature, which is a key component of healthy living. As they get older, they’ll appreciate spending time outside, both to enjoy the scenery and to participate in outdoor activities. When children spend less time indoors and more time outside, they’re better able to interact with other people and animals.
Social and emotional development
In addition to helping children develop physically, exercise plays an important role in their social and emotional development. Research shows that children who exercise regularly tend to be happier and to exhibit fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety.
As noted above, exercise improves brain function. One study found that children who played sports regularly had greater working memory capacity—the brain’s ability to hold information temporarily without relying on long-term storage—than those who didn’t regularly exercise. Working memory serves as the foundation for higher-level executive functions, allowing us to organize thoughts and plan ahead. Without it, we couldn’t accomplish tasks as quickly and effectively as we do.
Another study found that children who participated in soccer, dance, and gymnastics classes experienced improvements in their ability to interpret social cues. This ability is crucial to building relationships, making friends, and forming lasting friendships. Furthermore, children who exercise regularly tend to be more outgoing, independent, and flexible.
Exercising helps children develop a sense of responsibility and teaches them to become self-disciplined. It’s easy for busy parents to take their child’s exercise for granted, but it’s important to give them the opportunity to participate in a variety of activities. By doing so, you’ll help them develop a strong interest in exercise and a lifelong love of sport and physical activity.
It’s never too early to get started on improving your child’s overall health and quality of life. Start out slowly and work toward an active lifestyle that includes both physical and mental exercise. You can find plenty of ways to stay active with your child, including sports, dance, yoga, martial arts, and other activities. With a little effort, you’ll be able to incorporate physical activity into every day family routines.