A PHYSICALLY ACTIVE CHILD IS A HEALTHY CHILD
It’s a well known fact that physical activity strengthens a child’s muscles and bones, prevents excessive weight gain, and reduces the risk of diabetes, cancer, and other conditions.
However, what about the benefits of physical activity on the mental health of a child.
Experts say physical activity allows children to have a better outlook on life by building confidence, managing anxiety and depression, and increasing self-esteem and cognitive skills.It can not only help prevent mental and physical illness, but also help to treat other conditions, including grief, heartache, bad moods, and even relationship and family problems.
In fact physical activity is one of the best things we can do to ease the effects of most mental health conditions, including the more severe disorers such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.Though adherence to an exercise program might be more challenging for those suffering from mental health conditions, if they can learn the mental skills to stay motivated and stick with it, regular exercise can be one of the most powerful additions to treatment,” she added.
Exercise not only offers the healthy calm energy we need for optimal behaviour, it also allows us to work out stressful, anxious energy that may interfere with daily life. Being active and moving our body daily can carry the incredible mental health benefits like greater mental clarity, energy, focus, creativity, insight, etc., into our teen and adult years
Benefits of activity for brain function
Physical activity plays an important role in developing the brain and supporting essential mental functions.
Exercise leads to improved motor skills (such as hand-eye co-ordination), better thinking and problem-solving, stronger attention skills and improved learning. Not surprisingly, these all combine to benefit school performance. Even the simple act of playing outside with friends has been linked to children performing better on tests and assignments.
Benefits of physical activity for emotional and mental health
If your child has symptoms of depression or anxiety, or even just an “off” day, physical activity may be the last thing on their mind. However, physical activity can help greatly with maintaining mental wellbeing. “Feel-good” chemicals in the brain, known as endorphins, are released by the brain during physical activity and help to improve mood, energy levels and even sleep. Together, these positive effects help to improve self-confidence and resilience. Kids who get active every day are also better sleepers.
Children who experience heightened anxiety tend to focus on anxiety-inducing things, which in turn makes them more anxious, so creating a vicious cycle. But, through physical activity, an anxious child can break the cycle by focusing on the demands of the physical activity, developing new skills and achieving a sense of accomplishment. See your doctor if your child shows any signs and symptoms of anxiety.
If a child or teen is feeling lonely and unable to make friends, shared physical activities can give them a sense of belonging and companionship. A child or teen with social anxiety might find it difficult to be in a group environment, but a focus, such as a sport, may relieve some of the social pressure. Over time, the act of sharing experiences with others, developing rapport and working towards common goals can help a child focus and develop the confidence to speak up in class. It can also help foster friendships in school if the activities are school-based.
Improved body image (self-esteem, self-worth, and self-confidence)
When your child sees how fun it is to be able to dance, jump, walk, run, stretch and play they are more likely to want to continue enjoying being active throughout their life. Seeing and appreciating what their body can do, rather than how it looks, is a great way for a child to build a positive body image and self-esteem. It is important to help your child develop this awareness as early as possible and to play your part in promoting a healthy body image through your own behaviour.
The desire to look lean or muscular often becomes stronger during the pre-teen and teen years among both boys and girls. Your child is less likely to develop unhealthy habits to reach a so-called physical ideal if they have a healthy perception of what ‘looking good’ means, and understand that it comes from healthy, balanced habits.
One of the best ways to help our children be more active is to start a habit of activity ourselves and include our children Play, ride bikes, go for walks, jump on the trampoline together with your child — whatever you can do to get your children — and you — moving, and make it fun, is going to be just right. This shows children that moving is fun, it makes them feel good, and it also strengthens our family bonds.