How Can Exercise Affect Development?

by Debra Pachucki

    Regular exercise is pivotal to healthy child development. The National Association for Sport and Physical Education recommends that toddlers receive a minimum of 1 1/2 hours of physical activity a day, while preschoolers should receive no less than two hours. School children should have one hour or more each day. Provide a combination of planned exercises with unstructured free play activities to promote your child's growth and health in major developmental domains. Mix up routines to keep him interested and engaged.

    Getting Physical

    Kids get exercise with physical activities ranging from backyard and playground play to sports practice and established aerobics or other fitness routines. A daily combination of exercise activities decreases kids' risks for obesity, high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes, while promoting healthy bones and muscles and improved strength. Take advantage of pleasant weather and get kids outside for a game of tag, hide-and-go-seek or hopscotch. During free play, provide kids with a variety of toys that promote physical activity, such as plastic hoops, jump ropes, sports balls and horseshoes. Younger ones will benefit from physical play with grass toys such as toddler lawn mowers and golf sets.

    Motoring Around

    When children engage in physical activity, they gain essential experience in motor coordination and development. Climbing, balancing and jumping activities promote body awareness and muscle coordination, while running and bending activities encourage endurance, agility and flexibility. Obstacle courses and relay races can also promote visual-motor coordination and control.

    Cognitive Development

    Regular exercise not only promotes children's mental well-being and healthy self-esteem, it also improves their overall learning abilities and encourages academic success. The chemicals kids' brains release during physical activity can improve their moods and promote a positive attitude. According to KidsHealth, exercise can even help children with mild depression safely and naturally.

    Social Skills

    Exercise and outdoor play provide opportunities for quality time with family and friends, which promotes social development. Playing together promotes essential social skills such as cooperation, communication, problem-solving and decision-making. Coordinate family relay races, exercise challenges, games of basketball or hiking trips to promote exercise and physical activity and family bonding.

    About the Author

    Debra Pachucki has been writing in the journalistic, scholastic and educational sectors since 2003. Pachucki holds a Bachelor's degree in education and currently teaches in New Jersey. She has worked professionally with children of all ages and is pursuing a second Masters degree in education from Monmouth University.

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