Children that participate in DAILY exercise for at least an hour are more relaxed, eat and sleep better, tend to be well adjusted, have a 'glow' about them as their skin color is healthy looking and have more self awareness than other children that don't exercise. They can express themselves as movement and activity can often provide more than words can say. The normal frustrations that even young babies have are often released by movement. Exercise is really about burning off energy and in the end it makes more energy. The Health Canada website on children's exercise is http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/hp-ps/hl-mvs/pa-ap/04paap-eng.php and it has information about children needing physical activity at least 60-90 minutes every day. Another great website for children staying active is www.activehealthykids.ca.
It is hard for children to sit still and the best thing for them is to move a lot, every day and usually several times a day. They need to move in the morning, afternoon and again in the evening. It’s important to have a family routine and involve everyone even if it's for a half hour every night. We as parents are all tired at the end of the day although having our children play and exercise with us will calm and relax everyone. Do not underestimate the benefits of children exercising as without it the children will become bored, out of shape, lethargic, have behavioral issues, poor diets and sleeping patterns, and unsure of their own body image. Children that don't get daily and even several daily exercise will often be unhappy, aggressive, stressed and overly sensitive to everyday situations. When a child goes off to school, it will be noticeable at recess, lunch and gym class if a child has skills and the endurance to actively play physical games or sports. Children’s self confidence will come into play when they can or cannot match others at a physical activity which is so important in keeping them involved instead of isolated. Many children are excluded because of their lack of physical skills so the best thing we can do for them is to introduce these activities at an early age.
Children can participate in dancing, walks, running, jumping, kicking soccer balls, throwing footballs, playing tag, riding bikes, sing loudly while running in a circle which burns off steam as a few examples. To bring out the creative side of children, have them exercise for 5 minutes first before they sit down to do homework or art. Sometimes running around in the mall or running track is safe for kids although it’s important to be aware of other people. On those extreme weather days, you can set up an obstacle course in the house, take them to an indoor field, climb or jump on an old mattress and they will feel better. Many activities such as dance, gymnastics, martial arts and parkour are examples of unique physical styles of expression for young people to adults. Children that are physically fit will be able to try new ways of activity and pursue their goals that suit them.
Not everyone has a child that is super active although when a child is; there needs to be a game plan. It's similar to when a person has been fit for years and has an injury - need a new plan. Lucky me having 3 active boys! By 2 years old they ran the whole way along the hiking trails up and to the waterfalls at Johnston's Canyon. By 3 years old the boys ran for an hour and a half up the Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park which is a good 4 hour hike up the mountain north of Nelson BC. They love hiking, biking, climbing up mountains, spelunking and our family routine is not only driving them to sports in the evenings but also driving them out to Kananaskis or Canmore on weekends. It does become a lifestyle when you have children and the more that they are involved with exercise and family activities, the more they stay out of peer pressure situations. When children are self aware of their bodies and capabilities, they are less likely to have emotional problems, behavioural issues, low self esteem and self confidence, and eating disorders.
The bottom line with exercise: the sooner you incorporate a new positive exercise routine, the easier it becomes a lifestyle which leads to happier children and families! Stay active and have fun!