The western world has a growing obesity problem and worryingly the rising numbers of children and young adults are becoming overweight or obese. Parents and educators need to join the movement for change and should model and teach children that activity levels are directly linked to weight gain, as well as the diet they consume.
Physical activity can both reduce or even prevent future health problems as well as help to control a person’s weight. Children need active play to develop and grow properly and it even strengthens their brain and the connections between bones, muscles and brain.
What are the benefits of being an active child?
According to familydoctor.org, these are the main benefits:
- It burns calories instead of storing them as body fat.
- It maintains blood sugar levels. This is vital for children who have or are at risk of diabetes.
- It lowers blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
- It helps make bones and muscles strong.
- It builds strength and endurance.
- It relieves stress and helps with focus.
- It improves sleep and mental health.
- It boosts self-esteem by helping children feel confident about their bodies and appearance.
Experts agree that children should start physical activity as soon as possible. Even young babies should be encouraged to roll over and crawl, by putting toys just out of reach. Young children enjoy learning to gain control of their bodies through moving to music, crawling, walking, rolling balls and hitting things. Picking up small items develops fine motor skills.
All children love to explore and investigate the world around them. It is important that they have opportunities to learn in a safe environment but that also includes opportunities for children to learn to assess and take risks. We believe in creating play spaces that enable children to be active, make decisions and take risks.
For young children, active play that uses their hands and fingers and that develops their fine motor skills is important too. Our Water and Sand Play Range, Mixing Spot table, Chalk and Whiteboards are all perfect for enabling children to develop their finger dexterity and to handle and manipulate different materials.
Children age 6 and above should be physically active for at least 60 minutes each day, including a mixture of 3 different kinds of activity: aerobic, muscle strengthening and bone strengthening. The activities can be spread throughout the day and one activity may combine more than one of these types of exercise.
Examples of aerobic activities, which increase your heart rate and strengthen lungs, are running, skipping, dancing, cycling, tennis, swimming, skating, football, hockey etc. These also all help to strengthen children’s bones to grow healthily and stay strong.
Our MUGA (Multi-Use Games Area), complete with all weather, safety surfacing and line markings, is an ideal addition to any school grounds, encouraging children to be able to participate in a wide range of ball skills.
Our outside Children’s Gym Equipment is perfect for getting children to engage in vigorous exercise, when they will breathe faster and deeper, sweat and get warm and experience their heartbeat getting faster.
Activities like climbing, gymnastics, push-ups, pull-ups and sit-ups strengthen muscles and often develop balance too. Children love our Climbing Ship, Play Towers, Treetops Range and Adventure Trails which provide opportunities for developing upper and lower body strength, agility and coordination.
Active play is maximised with multiple entry points, so no one is left waiting and little explorers can clamber over, under or through the play equipment. Children find our Pull-up Bars and Roll Over Bars irresistible for a bit of swinging fun, allowing them to naturally develop their strength and gymnastic skills.
Physical activity includes walking to school, playing group games such as Tag, Stuck-in-the-mud etc, climbing on a play tower or simply through outings into the school grounds or further afield. Active play can be anything that gets a child moving, up on their feet and using their body, rather than sitting playing electronic games or watching television.
If we encourage an active lifestyle at a young age it is more likely to be a mindset that children will take forward with them through their lives. We need to support children in forming these healthy habits for the future.
Every child is different, but there is such a huge range of activities that everyone will usually find something they enjoy doing, whether as part of a group, a team, individually, for fun or in a competitive way. Activities can be modified to be all inclusive for children with a wide range of needs.
We have a wide range of sensory and inclusive playground items that allow all children to be active. Click here to see our SEND product range enabling children with all needs to be stimulated and engage in play.
Playground markings are an easy way to introduce increased activity into any outdoor play space. We offer a whole range of stimulating and fun playground markings including Exercise Courses, Adventure Trails, Mirror Me, Copy Me, Road Tracks, 100 square, Alphabet caterpillar etc, all encouraging physical activity through play.