Benefits of Exercise for Children

Being physically active helps children in more ways than just being healthy:

1) Physical Benefits

  • Healthy growth of muscles, bones and ligaments
  • Improved motor skills
  • Better sleep
  • Healthy body weight
  • Good cardiovascular health

2) Social Benefits

  • Enhanced social skills and interpersonal relationships

3) Emotional Benefits 

  • Increased self-confidence and self-esteem
  • Reduced stress and anxiety

4) Cognitive Benefits

  • Better focus, concentration and academic performance

In general, children should engage in at least 60 to 90 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity per day. Moderate intensity is when the heart is beating harder and breathing is faster than normal. The activities can be accumulated in short bouts of 10 to 15 minutes and can include unstructured play and structured sports.

“Children are active in an intermittent way and alternate between short periods of activity and short periods of rest. Every minute counts towards the recommended guidelines,” says Mr Lim.

“Since children grow and develop at different rates, the emphasis and activity recommendations vary among age groups,” he adds. “Activities for children should match their age, skill level and maturity.”

Recommended Activities for Children 1 to 6 Years Old

Between the ages of one and six years old, children should be involved in unstructured play with minimal rules. The goal is to make physical activity a fun part of their daily life. The activities should encourage children to explore their body function and learn in different physical environments. They should also provide opportunities to develop fundamental movement skills.
Recommended activities include:

  • Playing in the park or playground on monkey bars, swings and the beam balance
  • Playing games such as tag (“catch”) and/or hopscotch
  • Ball games
  • Cycling, swimming, gymnastics

Click here for tips on how parents can help ensure the safety of their child during exercise, and recommended activities for children six years and up. 

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