We hear a lot about the short-term physical implications of a lack of exercise. One in three children are now obese when they leave primary school (a statistic that we’d like to change!). But, looking beyond, what impacts does exercise have on the short-term mental and long-term physical and mental health of our young people? And how much exercise do they need?
What does exercise do for them?
Young people will often find that their sporting and activity time is cut in favour of more ‘educational’ purposes. Yet greater rates of activity for children have been associated with higher reading and math scores and an overall boost in academic achievement. It has also been associated with improved behaviours in the classroom and greater emotional intelligence, promoting a long-term lift in both mood and behaviour. An easy visual assessment; think of a young person’s mood after they have spent an hour in a dark room staring at an iPad vs after an hour of running around in the park with friends. You can often see the physical and emotional difference, can’t you?
So, how much exercise do kids really need?
The NHS recommend that young people between 5 and 18 should be having at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day; this can be a mix of moderate and vigorous activity. Moderate activity can be as simple as walking the dog, with vigorous activity requiring them to get a little more out of breath! We find that some young people are already hitting these targets, but many need a little helping hand.
How can we help young people to get involved?
Making activity fun for kids, promoting outdoor education and encouraging team building activities are great ways to foster interests in kids that may otherwise be disengaged with the traditional school sports-hall fare. Encouraging personal development and treating each child as an individual allows them to develop character and confidence. For physical development purposes activity should be mixed. Young people need to develop their muscle and bone strength so getting them involved in alternative sports means that not only are they thinking outside the box, but they are also working on different muscle groups. Think assault courses to develop agility, archery to work on hand-eye coordination and orienteering to help them explore and learn the world (sans Google Maps!).
Giving children the opportunity to take part in fun team building and sporting activity allows them to develop into happy, healthy and emotionally developed adults. Whether you are a teacher or parent, the health benefits of getting young children active are numerously beneficial.
We at WiseUp are dedicated to getting children involved in team building activities to help them bond, develop their skill level and ultimately stay fit.