Active Play: The Power of Movement for Kids Beyond PEOct 23, 2023
In today’s world, kids are spending more time in front of screens than ever before, and this sedentary lifestyle is affecting them mentally, emotionally, and physically. Though children have a natural inclination to move, the distractions they face are often stronger than this inclination. As parents, we have the opportunity to stoke their innate desire to move, and help them channel their energy productively.
Importance of Active Play 🏃♀️
Movement is the key to harmonizing our children’s complex systems, building strength, and fostering emotional resilience. Active play gives children the chance to exercise their imaginations, boost their physical health, and develop essential life skills. It encourages creativity, problem-solving, and social interaction while instilling a lifelong love for movement. And that last point is important.
Think of movement as a vital nutrient, just as nourishing as nutrient-dense foods. We’ll dive into the many benefits of movement as we go, but the important thing is encouraging your child to get enough movement. Just as you ask yourself how to nourish your child with good food, ask how you can help them move more.
Supporting the Body’s Restoration through Movement 🌟🩹
The body possesses an innate capacity for repair and self-restoration, and movement plays a significant role in facilitating these natural processes. Movement is a lot like hitting the refresh button for the body. It promotes blood flow that carries nutrients and oxygen to cells, aiding in their repair and regeneration. On top of that, it helps the lymphatic system remove waste and toxins from the body. In children, whose bodies are rapidly developing and adapting, movement is crucial for ensuring these processes run smoothly.
Movement for Physical and Cognitive Growth 🏃♂️🧠
Physical development is perhaps the most apparent aspect of a child’s growth influenced by movement. As they climb, run, and jump, their muscles grow stronger, and their bones become denser. They also become more resilient to injuries, and their immune system is strengthened. But the benefits don’t stop there.
Regular movement also supports cognitive development by enhancing memory, attention, and problem-solving skills. When children move, their brains receive increased oxygen and glucose, improving cognitive performance. In addition, active play fosters creativity and imagination, valuable skills that extend beyond the playground and into the classroom.
Encouraging Active Play 🎉
Beyond Formal Exercise
While structured physical education classes are essential, active play extends beyond these formal sessions. It encompasses all those moments when children engage in spontaneous, unstructured physical activities. It’s the impromptu race in the backyard, the imaginative play with friends, or the exploration of nature’s wonders. Encouraging these moments will help your child develop a movement mindset that will foster beneficial movement habits for life.
Ideas for Movement 🏃♀️
Inspiring your child to embrace active play requires creativity and variety. Here are some practical suggestions to incorporate more movement into their daily routines:
- Nature Adventures: Take family hikes, explore local parks, and go camping to connect your child with the natural world while keeping them active.
- Stretching: Introduce your child to the benefits of stretching to promote flexibility and balance. You can do this as a standalone activity, or while watching a movie or reading a book together.
- Gardening: Involving your child in gardening activities like digging, planting, and weeding is an excellent way to teach them about nature while keeping them active.
- Family Games: Engage in active family games like hide-and-seek, tag, or frisbee to create cherished family memories while promoting movement.
- Playdates: Organize playdates with friends where kids can engage in active play together, encouraging social interaction and physical activity.
- Limit Screen Time: Set limits on screen time to encourage your child to seek alternative activities that involve movement.
Cultivating a Love for Movement ❤️🏃♂️
Creating Positive Associations
Fostering a positive attitude toward movement is essential for long-term physical activity. Children who associate movement with joy and discovery are more likely to carry these habits into adulthood. Creating a supportive environment is key. Encourage your child’s interests, whether it’s sports, bike riding, or exploring nature. Celebrate their achievements, no matter how small, and make movement a family affair. When children see their parents participating in physical activities, it reinforces the idea that movement is a lifelong pursuit.
A supportive environment plays a pivotal role in nurturing your child’s love for movement. Ensure they have access to safe and engaging spaces where they can explore and play freely. Limit the distractions of screens and gadgets, making room for activities that involve physical engagement.
Resources to Get Your Child Moving📚
- Kickball: Having a kickball around is a great way to encourage movement. They’re versatile, softer than a soccer ball, and plain fun to play with. You can pick one up here.
- Jump Rope: Jump Ropes are a great source of fun, and great exercise. 10 minutes of jump roping gives the same cardio benefit as 30 minutes of running. Plus, there are many alternative ways to jump rope, making it less repetitive while still giving great health benefits. Get yours here.
- Simply Move in the Foundations Program: Our Simply Move Foundations Program provides you with all the basic info and tools you need to help your child thrive. It gives insight into the workings of the body from a functional medicine perspective, and provides practical tips for incorporating more movement into your children’s daily routine. You can get free access here.
As parents, we have the profound privilege of guiding our children toward a lifetime of holistic well-being. Active play isn’t just about your kids having a good time for an afternoon. It’s an investment in their growth—physically, emotionally, and academically. With movement as their constant companion, you can sit back and watch them flourish.
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