Ensuring physical activity at all ages is vital for children's development.
Ensuring physical activity at all ages is vital for children's development. FamVeld | Thinkstock

Making sure your children are active is essential

ON TOP of being essential for healthy growth and development, physical activity is an important part of your child's learning and a whole heap of fun.

You should encourage physical activity as a natural and important part of their daily life.

What you encourage in their youth can set up life-long healthy habits.

That said, parents often have plenty of questions about this topic including how much activity and what sort of activity. So let's dive in and discuss it!

What are the benefits of physical activity?

By nurturing your child's involvement in physical activities, you can set up lifelong habits which will have numerous health benefits for them.

These include strong bones and muscles; healthy heart, lungs and arteries; improved co-ordination, balance, posture and flexibility; reduced risk of being overweight or obese; and later in life a reduced risk of heart disease, cancer and type-2 diabetes.

On top of these health benefits, active children also tend to be confident, feel like they belong, be relaxed and happy, sleep well, concentrate better at school, make friends and get along with others, share and co-operate with other children.

A good foundation

In the first year of baby's life, activity will start out with basic motions such rocking their bodies and kicking their feet.

As they develop, this activity will start to change as they engage in floor play.

It's important to make time each day for floor play and encourage them to get moving!

Get your toddler moving!

Between the ages of one and five, you should encourage physical activity at different times throughout the day, totalling about three hours.

To get them moving, arrange activities that involve dancing, climbing and jumping. These are the type of activities that are loved by toddlers and it helps them to want to move around.

As they hit school

Your school age child should be moving throughout the day, but on top of this they need to be engaging in what child health experts call moderate to vigorous activities for at least an hour every day.

Moderate activities might be a poor description, as this means something that results in your child huffing and puffing such as an intense walk. Vigorous involves more huffing and puffing - like a running game or fast bike ride.

It is important to find something your child enjoys whether that is organised sport, playground time or even rough-and-tumble play within reason and when supervised.

Activity isn't just sport!

While organised sport has plenty of benefits, other opportunities for outdoor play are just as important.

Make a daily plan that involves you also participating in the physical activity. Not only does this help your child but it also helps you stay healthy.

So make the time to walk your child to school or day care, spend time with them in the park or playground, play chasing games or kick a ball together!

As always, if you have further questions about this or any other health issue for your child please chat to your GP or visit our WBHHS child health team at one of our centres - the Margaret Rose Centre, 312 Bourbong St, Bundaberg; The Village, 34 Torquay Rd, Hervey Bay; or the Bauer-Wiles Building, 167 Neptune St, Maryborough. Alternatively, call your local WBHHS child health team on:

  • Bundaberg - 4150 2700
  • Fraser Coast - 4122 8733
  • Childers - 4192 1133
  • Gin Gin - 4157 2222
  • Gayndah - 4161 3571
  • Mundubbera - 4161 3571
  • Monto - 4166 9300
  • Biggenden - 4127 6400
  • Eidsvold - 4165 7100

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