Nurturing a Love for Physical Activity in Children

For some children, being active comes naturally. For others, it can take a little extra encouragement to find something they enjoy.

Fortunately for young children, physical activity doesn't have to be in the form of a structured sport or activity. It can simply be about finding new ways to move their bodies for fun and to support their physical and mental development, as well as overall wellbeing. In this article, uncover the importance of movement in Early Years and find out how you can help lay the foundation for your child to embrace their bodies and enjoy being active.

The Benefits of Physical Activity for Children

Physical activity is good for everyone, no matter their age, and can significantly contribute towards lifelong healthy habits, routines and lifestyle. Just like with adults, the benefits of being active is known for having positive knock-on effects for children such as:

  • Improves coordination
  • Improves balance and posture
  • Helps children to regulate their emotions
  • Increases self-esteem
  • Reduces the risk of illnesses such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes later in life
  • Helps improve social skills when partaking in team activities
  • Helps develop healthy joints

5 Ways to Nurture Your Child's Love for Physical Activity

  1. Get the Family Involved

Children are easily influenced by their parents, caretakers, siblings and friends. So, by demonstrating your involvement with physical activity, you can become a prime role model for your child, highlighting how fun it can be to move your body.

Plus, physical activity can be much more enjoyable when you've got a support system to cheer you on or join in the fun. With warmer weather and lighter evenings around the corner, you can take full advantage of quality, outdoor time. Perhaps your family would enjoy a game of football in the local park, or a bike ride together. Or why not try out a family yoga session, or create a playlist with each family member's favourite song for a dance party? However you choose to move together, you can enjoy the benefits of physical activity, precious family bonding time and making happy memories.

  1. Incorporate Fun Equipment

Children learn through play, so getting imaginative with their favourite toys and playthings can be a great way to nurture their love for movement. Hula hoops, skipping ropes and bean bags are a few examples of toys you can use to encourage your children to get involved. You can also get creative with some chalk or tape and create your own hopscotch challenge and obstacle courses.

  1. Think Outside the Box

If your child has more of a penchant for books or video/computer games, then perhaps there's a way to bring the two worlds together? You may need to get a bit creative and do some investigative work, such as finding out who their favourite characters are and the storyline of their favourite game (if you don't already know the ins-and-outs). From there, see if you can figure out how to bring those themes to life in a physical game or activity. For example, if your child is mad about The Legend of Zelda, you could inspire a real-world adventure by heading outdoors and setting them off on various 'quests'. For many children, there's nothing like a little role-play to put a new and exciting spin on being active.

  1. Provide Them with Choices

One of the best things about physical activity is its versatility. If your child is interested in joining a sports club, it can be helpful to remain open-minded to the various options available to them. Just as you might enjoy cycling but dislike swimming, your child might start to develop preferences as to what activities they like most, as they try new ways of moving. But, since young children can be particularly impulsive, you may want to search for any local clubs that offer taster sessions. This way, your child can explore a variety of sports, but without having to make any long-term commitments.

  1. Gamify Chores

Chores might not be quite as appealing as outdoor quests or family dance parties, but by gamifying the process, you might just be able to pull off the best parenting trick of all time - physical activity paired with having your household to-do list ticked off! Maybe it's a time-trial, asking your child how quickly they can get the dirty laundry into a washing basket, or, if you have multiple children, see who can make their bed and pack their toys/clothes away before the timer runs out.

It's important to note that the effects of regular physical activity aren't just short-term for children. In fact, inspiring your child's love for movement at a young age can help set them up for more healthy habits well into adulthood. And, with there being so many ways to keep active, you might even discover a new activity that you love too...