DO­ING THE HYO ke OP K

THAT’S WHAT IT’S ALL ABOUT

Your Baby & Toddler - - Talking Point -

In to­day’s seden­tary mod­ern life­style, preschool­ers, tod­dlers and even in­fants are spend­ing far more time on elec­tronic devices or watch­ing tele­vi­sion than ever be­fore. This means less time be­ing phys­i­cally ac­tive at an age when phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity is vi­tal for the de­vel­op­ment of the sen­sory mo­tor and per­cep­tual skills that are es­sen­tial for learn­ing.

THE TRAP OF

TECH­NOL­OGY

In­creas­ing screen time has been linked with de­lays in cog­ni­tive, lan­guage and mo­tor de­vel­op­ment, as well as at­ten­tion prob­lems in young chil­dren. It is there­fore very im­por­tant to limit the amount of time your lit­tle one spends on screens and should not ex­ceed an hour per day. To make it seem to your child that he’s watch­ing more – and to keep his lit­tle brain from go­ing on au­topi­lot as he watches – break up view­ing into 10-to15-minute in­cre­ments. Rather, chil­dren’s time should be spent en­gag­ing in phys­i­cal ac­tiv­i­ties that boost their de­vel­op­ment both phys­i­cally and psy­cho­log­i­cally.

PHYS­I­CAL AC­TIV­ITY DOES A YOUNG CHILD NEED?

Pae­di­atric phys­io­ther­a­pist and Clam­ber Club ex­pert Ni­cole Hil­burn says that re­cent guide­lines in­di­cate that in­fants and tod­dlers need 180 min­utes of phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity (of any in­ten­sity) per day, and chil­dren from the age of five years and up need at least an hour of vig­or­ous phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity ev­ery day. “Chil­dren of all ages also need to en­gage in ac­tiv­i­ties, such as climb­ing play­ground equip­ment, which in­crease their phys­i­cal strength, on a weekly ba­sis,” says Ni­cole.

THE LONG-TERM BEN­E­FITS OF PHYS­I­CAL AC­TIV­ITY?

“On the emo­tional and psy­cho­log­i­cal side, ac­tive chil­dren tend to have lower anx­i­ety lev­els and im­proved mood and self-es­teem com­pared to in­ac­tive chil­dren,” says Liz Se­nior, an oc­cu­pa­tional ther­a­pist and founder of Clam­ber Club. “Chil­dren who are more phys­i­cally ac­tive are also likely to per­form bet­ter in the class­room due to the im­pact ex­er­cise has on at­ten­tion, con­cen­tra­tion span and phys­i­cal strength,” she adds.

Specif­i­cally, the health ben­e­fits of phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity in­clude the de­vel­op­ment of healthy mus­cu­loskele­tal tis­sues, car­dio­vas­cu­lar sys­tem and neu­ro­mus­cu­lar aware­ness, not to men­tion main­te­nance of a healthy body weight and lower anx­i­ety lev­els in chil­dren.

WE KEEP YOUNG CHIL­DREN AC­TIVE?

The good news is that there are a va­ri­ety of ways to keep young chil­dren en­gaged in phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity. Im­ple­ment­ing just a few changes in your child’s day can help in­crease their ac­tiv­ity lev­els – and it can also be a lot of fun!

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