Myth 3: Play is a waste of time and could pose unnecessary risks
The scientific response to this is “no.”
When young children play they engage their whole body and enjoy themselves. This type of active play has benefits for healthy brain growth. When playing, children learn how to regulate behaviour and emotions, become physically healthy and quite adept and controlled at using a range of motor skills (e.g., walk on different surfaces, run at different speeds, jump, climb, th...row, bend, catch, push, pull, carry, twist, fold, cut, balance). Researchers have found that healthy physical development is not guaranteed through natural maturation, at least not in urban environments. Instead, the development of motor and sensory skills in children depends upon their environment and what adults choose to have them do. If we are constantly hovering over children, afraid that they will fall or graze themselves, they will sense our fear and anxiety, and not be willing to take risks during playtime. If they are unwilling to take risks through play when they are young, when will they develop enough practice to take greater risks later in life?
Indeed, evidence suggests that physical activity in the early years doesn’t just enhance a child’s physical fitness, it increases her/his attention span and improves concentration and focus, an important skill for school and for life. In contrast, studies also show that three-year-olds who are not encouraged to move about and engage in physical activity are likely to become obese in later childhood and as adults
A 2013 report from the Institute of Medicine concluded that children who are more active “show greater attention, have faster cognitive processing speed and perform better on standardized academic tests than children who are less active.” And a study released in January by Lund University in Sweden shows that students, especially boys, who had daily physical education, did better in school.
To maintain a basic level of health, children and young people aged 5 to 18 need to do:
at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day – this should range from moderate activity, such as cycling and playground activities, to vigorous activity, such as running and tennis
on three days a week, these activities should involve exercises for strong muscles, such as push-ups, and exercises for strong bones, such as jumping and running
Many vigorous activities can help you build strong muscles and bones, including anything involving running and jumping, such as gymnastics, martial arts and football.
Children and young people should reduce the time they spend sitting watching TV, playing computer games and travelling by car when they could walk or cycle instead. http://ow.ly/rwQL30c7lbP
The family dog could serve as a partner and ally in efforts to help children with disabilities incorporate more physical activity into their daily lives, a new study from Oregon State University indicates.
In a case study of one 10-year-old boy with cerebral palsy and his family's dog, researchers found the intervention program led to a wide range of improvements for the child, including physical activity as well as motor skills, quality of life and human-animal interactions. http://ow.ly/MGl630c7lbN
How physical activity affects a child’s academics
The likelihood of improving academic achievement by sneaking in some more activity far exceeds the risk of it doing any harm http://ow.ly/oOeb30c7lbL
"Despite not providing the full amount of needed exercise, organized sports are still beneficial because they provide structure, companionship and character-building opportunities, along with some exercise, Heinrich said. To help children get the amount of daily physical activity they need, Heinrich advises parents to make sure children have at least 40 minutes outside of practice to play freely.
Unstructured playtime can include visiting a playground, jumping on a trampolin...e, playing catch in the yard, hula-hooping or whatever activity the child enjoys most, Heinrich said. Benefits of unstructured play include developing independence, creativity, leadership, collaboration and problem-solving skills. Heinrich said parents can encourage free play by having sports toys -- anything from basketballs to flying discs -- readily available.
"Organized sports are valuable, but free play activities are needed as well," Heinrich said. "It's important to provide children with opportunities for both." http://ow.ly/5Hoh30c7lbJ
"Researchers have found a new, more accurate way to determine if adolescents are overweight, important findings considering many school districts label adolescents -- who tend to be more vulnerable to weight bias and fat shaming than adults -- as obese." http://ow.ly/99jK30c7lbH