Why is physical activity important for children? | Tiara Rahadian Putri, M.S., BCBA from Yayasan Sahabat Anak Istimewa Indonesia (YASAINDO)| Kinderkloud

Why is physical activity important for children?

photo by allan mas: https://www.pexels.com/photo/little-girl-jumping-while-playing-with-ball-on-sports-ground-5623062/

In this digital world, practitioners and health organizations (e.g., WHO, 2020) emphasize the importance of physical activity for children. What are the benefits of physical activity for children?

Research shows that physical activity can maintain health and support children to grow and develop; such as reducing the risk of depression, reducing increased blood pressure, reducing the risk of chronic disease, reducing the risk of obesity, maintaining and increasing bone strength, increasing muscle strength, improving sleep quality, and indirectly affecting children's readiness to receive and process information during academic and non-academic learning environment (CDC, 2022). In general, physical activity can help in increasing the body's immunity, thereby reducing the risk of children getting disease. By preventing children from getting sick, physical activity can prevent the consumption of drugs that children must take when they are sick.

How much physical activity should children do?
The need for physical activity will vary and depend on each child's age or certain conditions. When not doing physical activity, it is recommended to read a book or do storytelling with parents or caregivers. According to WHO, the following are recommended for children according to age.

  • Age less than one year, within 24 hours:
    • Minimum 30 minutes of activities on the floor, such as “tummy time"
    • Screentime is not recommended
  • Ages 1 to 2 years, in a 24-hour period:
    • Minimum of 180 minutes (3 hours) of physical activity in any form, which can be done in a spread (not all at once).
    • Screentime is not recommended for 1 year olds, while for 2 years the maximum screentime is 60 minutes.
  • Ages 3 to 4 years, in a 24-hour period:
    • Minimum of 180 minutes of physical activity (3 hours), of which 60 minutes is targeted for more intense activities (e.g., running, cycling, swimming).

How to teach children to be active?

  1. Structure daily activities that involve physical activity. With a schedule, it will be easier for parents to monitor the duration of their child's physical activity.
  2. Involve family members and model the behavaior. The American Academy of Pediatrics emphasizes the important role of families in increasing physical activity in children's daily lives. One of the ways in which children learn is by observing and imitating what is in their environment. This activity can be "wrapped" within the family vacation, such as cycling or hiking together.
  3. Make it fun! The more enjoyable the physical activity, the higher the likelihood that the child will perform the activity independently. For example, when children don't really like playing with monkey bars or other playground equipment, adults can add bubbles or other toys/things that children like when they participate in these physical activities.
  4. Set limits on gadgets. Ease of information and access to entertainment can be a challenge to increase physical activity in children. With parents limiting their child's access to this device, the time can be allocated for physical activities.

 

Note: this is general information. Consult a relevant practitioner if you have any concerns for your child.


Tiara Putri, MS. BBCA.
BehaviorPALS


Reference:
American Academy of Pediatrics Urges Physical Activity Prescriptions at Doctor Visits. HealthyChildren.org. (2020). Retrieved April 7, 2022, from https://www.healthychildren.org/English/news/Pages/Physical-Activity-Assessment-and-Counseling-.aspx

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, January 12). Health benefits of physical activity for children. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved April 7, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/adults/health-benefits-of-physical-activity-for-children.html

11 ways to encourage your child to be physically active. HealthyChildren.org. (2020, December 30). Retrieved April 10, 2022, from https://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/fitness/Pages/Encouraging-Your-Child-to-be-Physically-Active.aspx

physical activity, screentime, obesity, academic, sleep

Children 4 Years - 6 Years / 4 Tahun - 6 Tahun / Physical Development / Tumbuh Kembang Fisik / Health / Kesehatan / Why is physical activity important for children?

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