This is a tough post to write… there are SO many good reasons to be active. It was easier to come up with my recent list of 52 Reasons to be active in 2015 than to create this Top 10 list of reasons every child should enjoy an active childhood.
I debated. I wrestled. I lost a little sleep too. But here it is… my “Top 10” reasons to keep our kids in motion:
- FUN! Childhood is but a fleeting time in a person’s life. It should be as care-free, happy, healthy, and FUN as possible. Let’s not forget that the values and habits established in our young lives are ones we carry with us into adolescence and adulthood. Do your children play enough? “When kids participate in healthy activities alongside their parents, they are more likely to continue being active and to enjoy it. Role modelling helps,” says Dr. Dina Kulik, a pediatrcian from Kindercare Pediatrics and the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. Follow Dr. Kulik on Twitter @DrDinaKulik and visit her website.
- To enjoy more time with friends and family. Active play and sport participation support the development of good interpersonal skills – which benefit us throughout life.
- Physical activity strengthens the heart and reduces the risk of heart disease, leaving us free to live and love for a lifetime! “Run around with your kids, it’ll help protect you from heart disease so you can keep playing longer,”suggests Dr. Kulik.
- It’s proven. Physically active kids perform better academically. Encourage your kids to play outdoors after school, and advocate for plenty of active playtime and physical education at your child’s school. Here are some tips to help your child log off and get moving.
- Physical activity is a natural stress buster that can prevent and be as effective as medication in treating anxiety and depression. Teach your kids that exercise is medicine!
- An active lifestyle can help us maintain a healthy weight at any age. It also fosters other healthy habits like eating well and getting adequate sleep.
- Outdoor activity helps kids connect with nature, something that is seemingly lost for many of today’s children. I love that Mark Yearwood of Kids in the Woods Initiative is helping reconnect kids with nature through adventure-play and mentoring in natural outdoor spaces.
- An active childhood helps kids develop a sense of community and belonging, particularly through team sport participation.
- Kids who are active and who enjoy plenty of unstructured active play have more confidence, higher self-esteem, and a healthier body image.
- Risk-taking! Childhood play gives kids the opportunity to test their limits and take risks that build resilience. Though not all parents will agree with me, I’m all for mitigating risks and letting kids climb trees, enjoy tobogganing, and climb to the top of the playground structure. “A recent study from Toronto demonstrates that children who play independently are healthier than those always supervised by their parents. Give your kids some space to explore, it will benefit them greatly,” urges Dr. Kulik.
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