Keeping Kids Active!
We’ve all heard that the benefits of exercise are endless, and the same is true for all the little friends in our lives too! Physical activity for children is important in aiding their growth and development while setting them up with lifelong healthy habits, and it is also a whole heap of fun!
So how much exercise should children be doing?
The Australian Physical Activity Guidelines recommend that for young people aged 5 to 17 years old, they should be participating in 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise each day – anything that leaves them ‘puffing’ a little bit! This may be done all at once, or broken up and spread out over the entire day.
What should this exercise look like?
Exercise can either be organised, such as weekend soccer or swimming lessons, or it may be non-organised, such as lunchtime play. It is also recommended that at least 3 times a week, this activity should be aimed at strengthening developing bones and muscles, such as running, climbing and playing on a playground. In addition to the recommended daily 60 minutes, there should be lots of light activity spread throughout the day and sitting time in front of a screen should be minimised as much as possible. This light activity may look like walking to school, throwing a ball to the dog or even helping out around the house with chores!
Where does an Exercise Physiologist come in?
Exercise physiologists are educated and qualified professionals that can help children with a wide variety of conditions to participate safely in exercise, and support them to meet the recommended guidelines. They have an in-depth understanding of a number of these common conditions seen in children, as well as the knowledge and skills to prescribe targeted exercise for maximum benefit. These exercises are usually in the form of play, games, races or challenges that may incorporate strength, balance, fine and gross motor skills, coordination and problem solving just to name a few!
Aside from all the usual benefits of physical activity such as a strong heart, increased blood flow to the brain and the development of motor skills, an exercise physiologist can tailor their treatment to target and maximise the benefits for the following conditions, and many more:
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): exercise may lead to improved memory, attention span and problem solving in young individuals with ADHD
- Asthma: helping to keep the heart and lungs strong which can lead to a reduction in asthma symptoms
- Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD): behavioral, social and academic improvements as well as reductions in self-stimulatory behaviors
- Cerebral Palsy: maintaining strength and range of motion to reduce difficulty in moving and consequences of inactivity
- Childhood Cancer: aid in counteracting the physical and psychological effects of cancer and cancer treatment
- Cystic Fibrosis: physical activity can decrease the risk of infections while also maintaining lung function
- Diabetes (Type I and Type II): helps to reduce further complications associated with diabetes, such as problems with the functioning of eyes, nerves, kidneys and the heart
- Epilepsy: exercise can help to reduce seizure frequency, as well as reduce fatigue and sleep disruptions
- Heart Disease: help to develop healthy lifelong habits and increase their confidence to participate in physical activity
- Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities: increase physical activity participation, both individually and in group settings
- Mental Health: elevating mood, increased confidence in social sport participation and manage the side effects of medications
- Muscular Dystrophy: develop balance, strength and coordination to promote independence
- Physical Disabilities: getting all the benefits of physical activity in an individually modified environment
If there is a child in your life that you think could benefit from spending time with an exercise physiologist, please give us a call on 02 4208 5129.