More and more children are being raised in closed environments without open spaces; with smartphones, computers and TVs as the main source of entertainment. When thinking about children’s development we have to consider different factors: healthy bodies, strong minds and good social skills. Apart from food, which is of course one of the main pillars for good development, physical exercise is essential to achieve healthy growth in every aspect.
When I was a child, outdoor activities and spare time were part of my daily routine. Nowadays, a shift towards a more technology-based society has caused children to adopt a more sedentary lifestyle. International organizations are aware of this problem, and we now see several publications seek stronger governmental measures to combat the consequences low physical activity in children can cause.
According to studies, elevated screen time can raise the risk of suffering obesity, anxiety, poor social skills, and low self-esteem… among others.
Because I don’t want couch potato twins, I decided early in their life that physical activity would be part of their growing path. When they were exactly 1 year and a half (18 months) I bought them scooters, and they are now experts rolling around. At 20 months of age, I bought them a balance bike. At two (4 months ago), they started asking for the bike themselves. In the beginning, they would lean on their feet to “ride”, but now they are getting better, jumping and coasting on their bikes with no assistance from us.
Apart from scooting and biking, they generally spend long periods of time outdoors playing soccer or just playing in the park. When at home, I try to leave them by themselves (always taking a peek to be sure that they are well) so that they can feel free to play what they want.
Ferran and Leon are strong children, despite their short age and small bodies. Reading a study about the impact of physical activity and sedentary behavior in bone health in children, I found out that high levels of physical activity enhance skeletal development in early life, and prevents age-related bone loss and fracture in the future. Moreover, physical activity enhances muscle strength, improves gross motor skills, and boosts social skills.
It is also reported that boys and girls who are active during childhood and adolescence are more likely to remain active later in life, so once again, the earlier kids get used to the habit of exercising the better they can espouse it in their life.
Running, jumping rope, hiking, playing soccer, climbing stairs, playing basketball, dancing, biking… these are just a few physical activities you can cheer your kids to do. Why not do it with them? An extra dose of physical activity for parents never hurts, and enjoying outdoor activities with kids can lead to a great time.
Exercise is important at all ages. For children in particular, it is necessary for healthy growth. My message for you is to implement you own “public” health measure at home. No laziness allowed! Make the time to take the kids outside so they can enjoy daily activities. And always remember to have healthy snacks:
I take with me carrots, celery and almonds, no goldfish or cheerios allowed!