Children need exercise

Moving around a lot, romping around outside and testing your own physical abilities - 20 years ago this was a matter for children. Today things are different: Children have less and less space outside for playing and romping. Your free time is planned. Often they sit far too long in front of the TV, the computer or the Gameboy. While they are flooded with optical and acoustic stimuli, they move less and less.

Many children become sitting indoors - and this can affect their physical, mental and social development.

Children need exercise - almost as much as air to breathe or water to drink. Only when children move a lot, when they do gymnastics and play, play and run, jump and climb, do they develop. Movement and perception are connected with each other. Estimating distances, imagining spaces, assessing speeds - all these are elements that children learn through playful movement. Diverse movement experiences help them get to know the environment and themselves. When the little ones run and play, run and fall, get up and jump, then their feeling for their own body, their body consciousness and their body perception develops.

Children are curious and they have a barely satisfying appetite for exercise - this drives development. They always want to climb, slide, spin, spin, spin, swing, jump off chairs and run through puddles. This urge to move is important for their development. Children need physical and sensory experiences to develop their motor memory. Try different positions of the body and different ways of moving. They have to test their balance in different layers and on different substrates. The most important thing is that for social experiences, children always have only a short window of time in which the brain receives and stores all the information related to the desired knowledge. If children waste this precious time sitting in front of the TV, they cannot make up for the experience in the same way.

The effects of lack of exercise in children are manifold. A growing organism is susceptible to disruptive factors. Children who do not move enough have muscle and posture weaknesses. You suffer from coordination problems, your perception is impaired. Sometimes such children cannot concentrate well enough or they are too fat.

Clumsy and uncoordinated children are also more likely to have accidents than other children. If they are not able to steer their movements and assess their physical abilities, they do not catch themselves even when falling. This can cause injuries even with small falls.

Scientific research has shown that children who exercise a lot learn better than couch potatoes. This is not surprising, as targeted movement experiences help with arithmetic, reading and writing. Children able to move have an inner imagination, an inner image of outer space. And this is the basis for mathematical thinking, because arithmetic is nothing more than arranging and rearranging sets in a imagined, inner space. The same goes for reading and writing: Children who learn to read and write must be able to orient themselves on the flat paper surface. Recognition of letters, correct reading and writing are only practical if this basic orientation is present.

It is good for children to be active in a gymnastics or sports club together with their friends. It is important that the little ones enjoy sports. For the child's development, it does not matter whether he or she plays tennis or football, whether he or she exercises on equipment, swims or learns judo. The fun and enjoyment of movement is decisive. Avoid unnecessary claims for benefits. Many children feel under pressure and lose their desire. It is important that your child stays with you in the long run even if he or she is not a super-athlete.

Here are some tips for an active child's everyday life:

Leave your child plenty of time for free play after completing their homework - outside, in the fresh air. If there is no possibility to play, romp and race in the immediate vicinity, search together with your child for alternative places such as children's playgrounds, fields or meadows. There, your son or daughter can meet up with friends. Exercise together with the whole family is fun and does everyone good - for you and your child: Play games, badminton, boccia and football together. Do something "moving" together on the weekend, bike tours, walks, swimming pool visits.

Only drive your child to school by car in exceptional situations. Even if it is sometimes strenuous to walk home after school, the exercise is good for your child and helps him to concentrate better afterwards.

Children need active leisure activities. Bicycles, inline skates, kickboards or skateboards are great equipment for varied and exciting body experiences. However, make sure you have the protective equipment.

Copyright: Landeszentrale fuer Gesundheitsfoerderung in Rheinland-Pfalz e.V. (LZG) Germany

Text: Dr. Beatrice Wagner, Editor: Birgit Kahl