Should your 4-year-old exercise?
A new study presented this year found that children between the ages of one and four should be doing at least three hours of physical activity daily. Failing to exercise would negatively affect children’s health. Read on for more important information.
In March 2012, the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology and PartipACTION presented The Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines for the Early Years (ages 0-4). This was a study based on six years of research that looked at the outcomes of 11, 000 studies conducted worldwide.
Based on their findings, researchers suggested that:
- Children under the age of one should be physically active several times daily through motions like time spent on their tummies, pushing and pulling and crawling.
- Children from ages one to four should get at least three hours of physical activity, at any intensity, throughout the day. This includes climbing the stairs and running.
- By age 5, children should have at least one hour of active play a day.
In contrast, researchers urged parents to minimise ‘sedentary time’, characterised by little physical movement, such as sitting on the sofa to watch television. Screen time should only but a maximum of one hour a day for kids aged 2 to 4.
Effects on the body
Experts noted that regular physical activity at a young age would positively affect bone development, motor skills and social kills. On the flipside, too much sedentary time has negative effects on body weight, heart health and self-esteem. Furthermore, a new body of research has found that sitting for long periods of time increases the risk of health problems such as heart disease and weight gain.
How do I get my kids to exercise?
The study has shown that exercise is crucial to a child’s development. Here are some ways you could get your kids up and running:
1. Playground time
A playground provides the perfect environment for a child to have safe, physical fun. Climbing up the slides and moving along makeshift ropes and ladders will give your child a good work out while he enjoys himself.
2. Encourage a sport
While children below 5 are probably too young to engage in sports seriously, let alone competitively, it’s always good to let your child try out sports that he might have an interest in when he grows up. Let him kick the old soccer ball around or swing that tennis racquet at something!
3. Play with them
Rather than simply stay at a safe distance watching your child run around in the park. Get alongside him and play with him. Not only will your child have more fun with the added company, the time spent together will serve to strengthen the bond between the two of you.
4. Encourage some independence
While we strive to keep our toddlers safe and within vision, it doesn’t hurt at times to let your child move independently around the house. Try asking your kid to pass a message to your spouse in the living room. It allows the child to be active in the safety of your home.
5. Introduce them to likeminded children
Our best memories of childhood are those of us playing with friends. Let your kid mix with other active children and let them run around playing pirates in the playground. The result? Simple exercise and memories of a happy childhood.
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