Regular exercise is key to happy and healthy kids
Want healthier, happier, smarter, stronger kids?
It’s all about balance, according to new movement guidelines developed by the Australian Government.
The guidelines outline the amount of time children need to spend in active play and other movement, which varies depending on a child’s age.
Experts suggest that children should be encouraged to try a range of activities suited to their age – obstacle courses, hide-and-seek, dancing and skipping for younger children; and organised games and sport for older children.
The new guidelines also include advice for parents on balancing screen time, active play, time spent sitting or lying down and the ideal amount of sleep for different ages.
The guidelines aim to help with better growth, stronger muscles and bones, better learning and thinking, emotional and social wellbeing, better motor skills and healthier weight, as well as reducing injuries.
Sports hidden life lessons
But those aren’t the only benefits of physical activity for kids; there are also many social and psychological reasons for kids to get moving.
Here are nine reasons for kids to move away from the screen and get active.
Sport is about bouncing back and learning from mistakes. No-one wins all the time and being able to pick themselves up after a tough game, race or other event, and then come back to do it all again the next week is a great way of building resilience in kids.
Becoming part of a team or other sporting group gives kids a sense of belonging and the opportunity to make new friends. It also provides a support network outside the school environment and can be a great outlet after a difficult day.
Being competitive is great, but learning to lose with grace earns kids the respect of those around them. No-one likes a sore loser, and being able to channel their emotions in the right way provides a great foundation for other life challenges kids may face.
Sticking with and mastering a hard task – learning a new skill in gymnastics, improving technique in the pool or mastering strategy in sport – teaches kids that persistence and hard work pays off. Learning to persist with a task and overcome difficulties to reach a target gives kids the foundation they need to achieve personal and professional goals in later life.
Following the rules, accepting decisions and taking direction from coaches or umpires – even when they disagree – are all skills that kids can translate from the sports field to the classroom and later, the workplace.
6. Building self-esteem
Sport and other physical activities help kids build self-esteem through encouragement from their peers, achieving a goal, sharing a sense of collective purpose and achievement, and giving each other a high five at the end of an event.
Working together to achieve a common goal teaches students to recognise each other’s strengths and to understand what’s best for the team – even when it might not be the best for them. They also learn to communicate effectively and how to read a situation, and then adjust their own performance to compensate.
For most people, succeeding in sport takes a lot of practice. Learning patience when kids have to master a new skill, and being patient with themselves and others are valuable personal attributes no matter what life stage they are at.
9. Learning performance
Sports programs have been demonstrated to improve kids’ learning performance, encouraging both their desire to attend school and do well academically.
Ready for action?
If your kids are keen to get moving and benefit from everything that sports and other physical activities have to offer, Macquarie University Sport and Aquatic Centre has a range of programs to suit all ages and interests, from holiday programs to swimming to gymnastics. Find out more