Monday, September 26, 2011

Why Children Should Exercise

When a few parents gather to talk about their children, one of the most frequently discussed topic is to compare the best tuition center available. This is not surprising as with the raise in education standard and high competitiveness in today studies, many parents are willing to spending more time and money on their children's education. This can be understandable as all parents want their children to excel in their academic performance.

As technology becomes so advanced, the childhood experienced 10 to 15 years ago as compared to now is completely different. Those once familiar childhood games such as Pepsi Cola, five stones, hop scotch, zero point, police and thief, throwing marbles now seems so foreign to children nowadays. Nowadays, their childhood is probably filled with PSP, PS3, XBOX and other computer gaming. Their only favorite physical activities perhaps are fingers, eyes and mouth exercises (computer gaming and eating snacks while watching television). While in certain context, gaming does have its own benefits in training of the human reflex and reaction; children should not be spending too much of their time on computer gaming.

Health Literacy

This is particularly worrying as children would have lost the opportunity to develop their fundamental and locomotive skills such as running, leaping, hopping, catching, throwing etc......which will hinder their physical literacy during their growth and developmental phase. Without these fundamental and locomotive skills, they would find difficulty when they engage in other sport games such as baseball or basketball and will feel inferior when their classmates are able to strike and dribble properly while they can't. This might have a long term effect where the poor child lost interest in that particular sport when they grew up.

Both fundamental and locomotive skills do not develop automatically, it need to be given the opportunity and time to practice. Taking running for instance, children often like to run around more than walking when they were young, as compared to more specific locomotive skills such as striking, balancing, throwing, receiving which needs to be given time and opportunity to practice and develop.

With the lack of children physical activities, there has seen an increasing trend in child obesity over the past few years and the government had also expressed their concern by implementing more awareness to the schools and public on educating how to manage obesity, especially in young children. One such campaign is the - 2nd SHF-NIE National Seminar 2007 "Managing Obesity in Schools" jointly organized by MOE and the Singapore Heart Foundation.

The "Managing Obesity in Schools" series of annual seminars are organized so as to raise community awareness of obesity related health and educational issues in schools among teachers, parents and the public at large

Parents are strongly encouraged to allow children to spend more time on physical activities and playing, other than studies so as to prevent many of the long term health issues which is linked to obesity. Along with increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and other medical disorders, obese people can develop potential musculoskeletal problems which are caused by their increased in body weight. We all know that excess weight will adds additional stress on the major weight-bearing joints, such as the hips, knees, spine and ankles. Over prolong period, this can lead to soft tissue injuries, arthritis, and other painful joint disorders, which can be prevented.

Sports and exercise provides a very good platform for the children to explore their physical potential and capabilities which also helps to greatly enforce their self esteem, confidence and discipline. Team sports such as basketball, soccer, hockey allows children to learn valuable qualities such as team building which cannot be obtained from reading textbooks alone. Close skilled sports such as Wushu, Taichi, Gymnastic, Archery allows children to learn focusing and concentration technique. Of course, there are still many other benefits and qualities which can be obtained from Sports that is not listed.

Looking at more specifically, taking for instance, children who practice Wushu or Taichi tend to have better concentration and focus during study and also are more discipline, due to the nature of the sports and training environment. The slow and calming movements in Taichi, enables children to explore their more innate self and be aware and thus able to handle their own stress and anxiety level much better compared to those who did not exercise at all. It also provides them with an opportunity to slow down their pace of movement occasionally to train on their concentration & focus. Besides that, it also helps to ensure proper posture alignment which is especially important during their growing up stage.

Like all parents, being a coach and physical educator, we hope to provide the best environment to nurture our next generation with a holistic physical and mental environment. As if the above is not convincing why children should engage more in different form of physical and sporting activities, below is a list of why exercise is good for children.

1. Children who exercise and engage in sporting activities regularly are more likely to continue exercising even as an adult.

2. Exercise helps children achieve and maintain a healthy body weight.

3. Regular physical activity helps build and maintain strong, healthy muscles, bones and joints.

4. Exercise aids in the development of important interpersonal skills such as team building - this is especially true for participation in team sports.

5. Exercise helps improves the quantity and quality of sleep.

6. Research had shown that exercise promotes improved school attendance and also enhances academic performance.

7. Children who exercise regularly tends to have greater self-esteem, confidence and better self-images.

8. Participating in regular physical activity prevents or delays the development of many chronic diseases (e.g., heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and hypertension) and promotes health.

9. Children who are active report fewer symptoms of anxiety and depression better mental control.

10. Exercise helps improve motor coordination and enhances the development of various motor performance skills.

On this very special Children Day, besides the usual gifts of sweets and chocolate bars which the kids definitely love to have, perhaps we could offer them even more, to spend more time and play with them, which will not only increase their physical activities level as well as promote stronger bonding relationships between the children and you.

Why Children Should Exercise

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