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If you have children, chances are before lockdown, you felt much of your week was spent travelling from one activity to the next. Now that formal sporting classes are on hold, how do you ensure that your child is getting enough exercise and what sort of exercise is not only fun but will benefit those growing bodies?
Whether your child is the next superstar athlete, or a child who prefers a slower paced approach to exercise, physical activity is extremely important for children.
It’s recommended that children are regularly active throughout the day, and that kids aged between 5 and 12 should get at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day. According to the Department of Health, children’s physical activity should include a variety of aerobic activities, including some vigorous intensity activity and on at least three days per week, children should engage in activities that strengthen muscle and bone.
Usually that feels pretty achievable but in iso and winter – that’s a challenge!
There are many benefits to your child engaging in regular exercise, including:
While these benefits are fantastic, not every child expresses interest in engaging in physical activity. For children who typically shy away from sports, it is important to encourage them to still engage in some form of exercise. Going for a walk with the dog, riding a bike or jumping on the trampoline can all be valuable forms of physical activity. Additional balance and coordination training can also be immensely helpful to help improve their confidence and reduce their risk of injury.
Before we were sent back into lockdown, children who were playing sports were likely already reaching their daily activity needs. However, given the lack of formal sports classes right now, additional balance and coordination training can help to improve their performance, reduce their risk of injury and allow them to adapt more quickly to their growing body. In addition to the physical benefits, the social interaction associated with team sports and group exercise is valuable in building teamwork, communication and leadership skills. This is fantastic for many children, however some children find the amount of people intimidating. Small groups can be a fantastic stepping stone towards team sports, and this is a perfect time to start.
As children grow rapidly, their coordination can be affected. You may notice that just after your child has a growth spurt they appear less coordinated, struggle more in sports or become more clumsy. This can happen as children take time to adjust to their taller body. While they will naturally adapt to their body, coordination training completed in addition to their usual activities can help to speed up that process. Challenges such as balance activities, playing on varying surfaces and games involving target activities may all help to develop these skills.
PE AT HOME TIPS
Why not rotate which family member chooses an activity for the day, or write different exercises on sheets of paper and draw them out of a bucket for a surprise activity!
There are also some great online resources to help keep things fresh and fun. Try some of these:
It can be difficult to motivate children to exercise when they are out of their usual routine and have lost some of the external motivation to exercise associated with sports. If you are finding this aspect difficult but want to keep your child fit and healthy and ready for recommencement of their regular activities, we have the perfect class.
Camberwell Sports & Spinal Medicine has recently recommenced our PIER junior program. This is a class designed for primary school aged children and focuses on building strength, balance and coordination in a fun, safe environment. Run by our Physiotherapist Sally Lynch, the class allows a maximum of two children (usually four, however we are capping numbers at two due to current restrictions) and is held Thursday afternoons at 4:15pm. For older children and teenagers of high school ages- our PIER Youth class run by Peter Stath is on Tuesdays at 4:45pm. If you think your child could benefit from attending one of these classes, you can purchase a pack on our app or ring the clinic for more details.
Merkel, D. (2013). Youth sport: positive and negative impact on young athletes. Open Access Journal Of Sports Medicine, 151. doi: 10.2147/oajsm.s33556
Myers, A., Beam, N., & Fakhoury, J. (2017). Resistance training for children and adolescents. Translational Pediatrics, 6(3), 137-143. doi: 10.21037/tp.2017.04.01
Somerset, S., & Hoare, D. (2018). Barriers to voluntary participation in sport for children: a systematic review. BMC Pediatrics, 18(1). doi: 10.1186/s12887-018-1014-1
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