Physical education lessons are a required syllabus in Singaporean schools for a good reason – physical activity couldn’t be more important to a child’s physical, mental and emotional development. Like it or not, there is no denying that physical activity presents so many benefits to your child that exercise should definitely be encouraged whenever possible.
Exercise, like food, is a fundamental part of a child’s physical growth. Exercise helps your child build stronger muscles and bones acting as a stimulus for the body to adapt to. Developing a good physical foundation from a young age includes healthy bone mass and density, which will reduce the risk of developing bone-related diseases such as osteoporosis later on in life.
Physical strength is built through exercise and being strong has tons of benefits to a growing child, such as being able to walk longer distances without getting tired and having the strength to perform their daily tasks. Exercise also promotes flexibility and stability.
For younger children, physical activity during playtime helps with the development of motor skills, which is responsible for helping them master the basic movements they need for everyday life. The development of a child’s motor skills means that basic feats such as feeding oneself, tying one’s shoelaces and even writing can be attained much faster.
Slouching is a common problem in many children and exercise helps to counter this negative trend by improving a child’s posture by increasing core and spine strength. Good posture goes a long way in life – it protects a child’s spine from deformation due to excessive slouching and also reduces the chances of experiencing body aches due to bad posture.
Nothing burns calories as successfully as physical activity, making exercise an essential activity when it comes to weight management. While most parents feel the urge to pamper their child by letting them eat as much as they want, it should be known that obesity during childhood comes with a high risk of remaining obese as an adult. According to the Health Promotion Board, this figure is estimated to be as high as 70%!
Chubby kids are seen as adorable by their parents, but all that extra fat comes with a health cost. Childhood obesity puts children at risk of developing cardiovascular diseases such as high cholesterol and metabolic conditions like type 2 diabetes later on in their life or worse, at a younger age.
Exercise isn’t all about getting buff; it also helps with brain development! During exercise, nerve cells in the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex of the brain are triggered to multiply and form new connections. This results in improved concentration and a better memory, which are traits that will definitely serve a school-going child’s academic needs well!
While exercise can seem like a dreadful chore to some children, the actual act of exercising becomes something of a cathartic experience once the child gets into the flow of exercise. Physical activity helps with stress and anxiety relief, and the rush of feel-good hormones it releases promotes better moods. Nothing warms the heart of a parent more than than the sight of a happy child!
Along with improving a child’s mental health and mood, exercise also boosts a child’s self-esteem. Being good at a certain sport is definitely a confidence raiser for children. The fact that exercise helps with weight control also helps to promote healthy self-image in children. Finally, exercise is a great way for children to make friends and being part of a social group definitely contributes to a child’s self-esteem.
Exercise not only provides children with an opportunity to make new friends, it also helps them develop and nurture their social skills. Team sports, for instance, help children to hone crucial communication skills such as learning how to read non-verbal cues, practicing teamwork and adopting leadership roles.
All the developmental benefits of exercise have a significant impact on a child’s long-term health. The physical, mental and emotional benefits derived from exercise will prepare a child well for his or her teenage and adult years. If you are wondering when to start making exercise a regular activity in your child’s life, the answer would be: it’s never too soon! Whether your child is currently a toddler, kindergartner or primary school student, exercise deserves a spot in their life. Find out the basics to get you started here.