Parenting Tips /

Exercise for Kids

I like to move it, move it!

Adequate physical activity is fundamental to a child’s healthy growth and development. It’s never too early to start keeping fit. The long-term benefits adults receive from exercising apply to children too. Besides helping increase life expectancy and lowering the risk of developing metabolic and cardiovascular disease later in life, exercise can help:

Coupled with getting an adequate amount of calcium every day from a yummy glass of milk, exercise promotes the development of healthy bones, muscles and joints. The Malaysian Dietary Guidelines for Children and Adolescents (MDGCA) recommends that children over the age of two should enjoy at least 60 minutes of age appropriate physical activity every day. Alternatively, exercise periods can be broken up into two 30-minute sessions or four 15-minute sessions. The specific types of exercise a child can do varies according to age:

2-3 years old

Children at this age should be active throughout the day. As they have just mastered movements like walking and jumping, supervised unstructured free-play is best for this age group. Running, kicking, doing some hopping or pedalling a tricycle are some ways to keep active. But if you want to have even more fun, make it a group exercise by playing follow the leader, dancing together with some music, or singing nursery rhymes like “row your boat” with movement.

4-5 years old

By this age, a child’s coordination skills are much more developed. Having just learned how to balance, kids this age can start doing somersaults, walk backwards and hop around on one foot. Going to a playground or a local park will be fun for them as they can use playground equipment and do activities like playing catch, running around a large area or playing ball. Supervised swimming and playing in the pool are also recommended starting from this age group.

6-10 years old

Children aged six and above have much more refined strength, visual skills and attention spans. This means that it is time to incorporate organized games and sports like football, swimming, jumping rope, badminton, gymnastics or martial arts. Bear in mind that activities done only twice a week are insufficient. Get your kids to move about daily by getting them to help with house chores, going for walks after meals or riding their bicycle.

This article was originally published in the March 2018 issue of HealthToday.