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Motivate children to keep moving and playing

Posted:  Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Parents may go overboard in protecting their children from bad bruises during play time. In addition, almost all of them are in favour of organised activity for their tots. However, researchers suggest not limiting their movement and letting them play as they wish for good motor development and general health.

The study conducted by researchers from the Kansas State University focused on environmental and psychosocial influences on childhood physical activity, and interventions to prevent childhood obesity. Much worryingly, the 2012 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics found more than a third of children and adolescents to be overweight or obese.

The researchers suggest the following tips for increasing physical activity:

- Studies have found that small portable items such as tricycles or balls promote better physical activity than large equipments such as jungle gyms and swing sets.

- Clear the room designated for the child from television sets, video games and other instruments that may promote sedentary behaviour.

- Create a play environment that helps children utilise multiple muscle groups. For example: running, climbing, jumping and hopping.

- Other indoor free play items such as hula hoops, ping pong balls and hopscotch could be really exciting for the child to play.

- Allow children to get hurt and bruised as they will learn to play safe in the future.

- Provide age-appropriate physical activity to children. For example, organised sports are not suggested for 3-5 year olds as they should be learning motor coordination.

- Kids generally prefer quick spurts to adult-like continuous movements. Hence, adult physical activities must not be scaled down for kids.

"We live in a toxic environment that does not promote physical activity in children, or anyone. From birth to death, it is important to be physically active. We know that physical activity improves quality of life and helps avoid chronic illness," suggested the researchers. Indeed it is important to ensure kids keep up their levels of physical activity to conquer the monster of obesity.

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