Anyone over the age of thirty will know, often through painful experience, that your body will begin encouraging you to slow down from here on in. Some try to resist the call of time, choosing to take up (or continue participating in) regular exercise to try and keep the extra weight away and put a bit more life in their heart and lungs. Others decide that the effort is not worth the reward and simply go with the flow of the ageing process. Whatever the action an individual decides to pursue, few would argue against good diet and regular exercise being a benefit to general health, from middle age onwards.
Or continue participating in…
According to a study by the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences at Loughborough University, a massive 91% of 2-4 year old children are not getting enough exercise. To clarify ‘enough’ the report cites the physical activity guidelines laid out by Professor Dame Sally Davies, the UK’s Chief Medical Officer. Her findings set a standard that should be easy to achieve, but the results show that only one in ten children between those ages is benefiting from the lifetime advantages given by early years fitness.
Other studies consistently show that physical activity does far more for a person, of any age, than simply strengthen their muscles, bones, internal organs and increase their overall health. It also helps to stimulate cognitive skills, reaction speeds, mental wellbeing and social interaction. And the fact is that children who enjoy sport and a healthy lifestyle, are more likely to become teenagers that make wise health decisions, young adults with a passion for keeping fit and people who take those attitudes into middle age and longer later life. The health cycle starts early!
Three hours per day to change a lifetime!
The guidelines state that children aged between 2-4 years old should be involved in a minimum of three hours of physical activity every day. Now, I’m not suggesting that parents start traipsing their toddlers off to the gym every afternoon, or set up a treadmill in their bedroom, but think about supporting their natural instinct and aptitude for energetic fun. Through every age and stage of life, people engage most with the things that they enjoy. Optimising a child’s inbuilt fascination with stories, play, exploration and adventure is one of the simplest ways to develop their enthusiasm for activity. Done well, this sort of early age physical education could have a positive impact on their physical and mental health for the rest of their life.
At Sport Xplorers, we have developed teaching resources, fun characters, easy to apply lessons and proven strategies to help teachers fire up young children’s passion for physical activity.
Its never too early to start…
Most people, in later life, don’t try and keep fit because age turns against them and the extra effort to start seems like too much effort. But, if that effort had simply been a part of the routine that underpinned their early years; and the results from being a toddler, to school, through young adulthood and beyond were enjoyed and experienced, the lifetime ahead for that person will be brighter.
We owe it to our children to give them the best start in life. Not just because the Chief Medical Officer has written it in a report, but because everything about our human nature and our personal experience shouts that it is the right thing to do.