Kids are active on their own — right? They run around constantly, chasing the family pets throughout the house, playing tag during school recess, circling the track during their physical education class. They seem always to be moving. As much as we believe our children are perfectly fit, many kids do not get the physical activity they need.
Though playtime once involved backyard sprints, spur-of-the-moment games of tag, and bike riding around the block, today’s children are often found opting for their favorite technology toys over the great outdoors. With ever-present screens — the TV, the smartphone, the tablet, the family computer — drawing kids’ attention towards the couch, getting and staying active requires conscious choice.
Kids’ movement matters every day, for staying active offers benefits beyond the physical. When we keep our kids active through sports such as gymnastics, we help them better their brains, bodies, and lives.
Why Getting Moving Matters
We know that exercise is a healthy habit; its weight- and diet-friendly, and it helps our bodies build muscles. For children, whose bodies are still stretching, shaping, and shifting, it’s even more important to be physically active.
Whatever movement suits their interests, whether walking, riding, or rolling, it’s important to encourage children to move as often as possible.
Getting up and walking around the living room doesn’t quite count, though. In fact, we should aim to keep our kids moving for more than mere minutes. As Let’s Move, the U.S. government’s organization supporting active lifestyles and families, explains, children need a full hour — 60 minutes — of moderate or vigorous activity every day. That recommended goal helps keep weight under control, increases muscle, promotes the body’s growth and development processes, and decreases the possibility of obesity.
The body benefits are almost endless, improving the muscles, bones, and even blood. Hitting that 60-minute per-day goal means children will:
- Strengthen their still-developing muscles and bones
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Burn calories that the body would otherwise store as fat
- Build both strength and endurance, developing the ability to become even more active
- Lower their blood pressure and cholesterol
- Balance blood sugar levels and decrease the risk of Type-2 diabetes
When children get moving on a regular, and even daily, basis, they help their bodies grow and develop in the healthiest of ways. The benefits don’t end there — in fact, keeping kids moving offers positives beyond the purely physical.
Reap the Benefits, Both Body, and Brain
Regularly making time to get active benefits children in so many ways. Sure, better bodies are grown and created through these healthy habits, but everyday activity and movement, whether through children’s sports or simply playing whenever possible, help children to achieve greater lives overall.
In addition to building better bodies, regular exercise affects everything from a child’s self-esteem and mood to their interpersonal skills and future habits. According to fitness organization ACE, children who get moving each day are happier and have a more positive perspective. They feel better about themselves, with higher self-esteem, and are less likely to feel anxious or depressed when obstacles appear. That happiness helps in the classroom — research has found that active kids not only have better school attendance but also strengthen and improve their academic performance.
When children participate in physical activity with others, they gain social skills, too. Those who achieve their “get moving” goals through sports like soccer or gymnastics develop strong interpersonal skills, becoming better able to create and grow relationships with others. Worried that so much time dedicated to getting physical will detract from your child’s sleep schedule? Exercise is also helpful when bedtime rolls around. With regular physical activity, children are able to sleep better, for longer periods of time.
Perhaps most importantly, active kids become active adults — when children are regularly exercising or participating in sports, they stick to these habits later on in life. As a known stress reliever, what better way to help kids become strong, confident adults than to make moving a part of everyday life?
Help Your Kids Build Better, Healthier Bodies
As Kids’ Health remarks, Young children love to move. They’re naturally active, prone to rushing, running, bouncing, skipping, turning nearly any activity into a physical one. Staying active is important at every age, and, as kids grow older, they become less naturally inclined to get up and move.
As they move into their pre-teen years, they begin gravitating towards more sedentary activities rather than those that get their blood pumping and bodies working. With the demands of school and its homework assignments, increasingly competitive sports, and endless extracurricular activities to juggle, their time for physical activity can feel limited.
Break your kids away from the screens surrounding them at every moment, and encourage them to get involved in any physical activities of their choice. According to Kids’ Health, there are three ways to help encourage your kids to stay active, without forcing them into a rigid routine. When keeping your child’s movement in mind, there are three important aspects to remember: the three varieties of exercise kids need. Although they need an hour per day, kids also need to vary their “workouts” to achieve excellent benefits. As Family Doctor discusses, the three types of activities to keep in mind are:
- Aerobic – cardio of some kind, including dancing, running, and vigorous movement that gets the heart pumping and blood moving.
- Muscle Building – those sports or activities like gymnastics or strength training that bring balance and muscle increase.
- Bone Strengthening – any activity that encourages bone growth and strength, such as skipping.
How can you instill these health-focused positives in your child’s life? First, find age-appropriate activities and sports.
Have a household full of young toddlers? At such a young age, the kids are toddling around without much stability or focus. Instead of prompting them to join varied activities, make playtime active by incorporating walking, running, or even climbing within the house or at the local playground.
If your children are older, team sports may be what’s best for them, keeping them running, jumping, tackling, or otherwise moving for hours each week. Choosing the right activities is a major step in keeping kids engaged; if they feel a physical activity is too difficult or too overwhelming, they may move less in resistance to participating.
Next, make sure your kids can find opportunities to move by making their access to physical activity easy. Keep balls, hula hoops, rackets — any sports equipment — handy, and children will be more likely to choose these options over screen-driven devices.
Can’t stand hearing the sound of volleyballs hitting your hardwood floors? Make park time a regularly scheduled event each week to encourage the children to spend at least an hour climbing, swinging, or running. No matter which method you choose, the most important factor is ensuring movement can happen at any given time. After all, if sedentary options exist, countering them with opportunities to rush outside and play will get kids onto their feet considerably faster than forced exertion.
Finally, while staying active is crucial, the most important aspect of creating healthy kids is finding the fun in all that gets them moving. When children are engaged in and enjoying the activities at hand, whether they involve movement or not, they’re more active participants — and they find happiness in what it is that’s taking place. As fantastic and beneficial as encouraging kids’ activeness is, it’s even more important to ensure that they enjoy what they’re participating in.
Have a child who can’t stand kicking soccer balls for hours on end? Discovered that your kid isn’t the biggest fan of swinging at baseballs or softballs? Don’t fret — this doesn’t mean they aren’t able to achieve their “activity quota” each day. They just need a new outlet through which to get their bodies moving and improving.
Get Moving by Getting Involved in Gymnastics
Want to ensure your children meet both their recommended amount of exercise and the varied advanced forms of it? Get them involved in a physical activity that’s fun, engaging, and consistently challenging — one that involves constant challenges like gymnastics.
Organized sports aren’t simply a benefit to a child’s social skills; they also increase activity on a regular basis, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics as mentioned via Livestrong.com. Not only does a group sport increase social and physical development, but it also provides regular access to strength and muscle-building; however, gymnastics offers even greater benefits.
When participating in gymnastics, children gain not only a rigorous and dedicated healthy lifestyle — and active — routine, but also the increased strength, flexibility, balance, and coordination of other sports in a social setting. Additionally, young gymnasts are incredibly disciplined, able to master and adhere to more strict schedules and regimens while maintaining their other responsibilities. They reap the benefits of a healthy, active lifestyle: increased sleep and focus in the classroom, greater physical strength, and constant communication with others their age.
Ultimately, a healthy lifestyle breeds nothing but benefits for active children. Not only will they achieve physical success, accomplishing the goals of maintaining a healthy weight and increasing strength and muscle, but they will become more confident, more motivated, and more prone to success – both in their childhood years and their adulthood.
With the foundations of a strong and successful “movement goal” in their childhood, kids are better prepared to stick with healthy milestones and lifestyles throughout their lives, benefitting their brains, bodies, and beyond. With endurance, strength, and positive self-image, what is it that kids cannot accomplish? They will be wholly intelligent, academic, motivated, alert, and, of course, successful in all they wish.