There’s really no age limit to when kids can start exercising when you consider that anything that encourages movement is a form of exercise. Getting a child as young as a toddler to become familiar with throwing and catching a ball or getting a child that’s able to walk to get excited about running can be the first step towards a positive outlook on exercise and moving.
Although the physical benefits are a good enough reason to encourage this, I want to focus more on the mental health benefits that come from exercise.
Increases self-esteem & confidence
Performing well in any sport or exercise program boosts a youngster’s confidence in their own abilities. Initially they may not be the best, but their persistence will cause them to improve which will result in increased self-esteem.
Improves social wellbeing
Being a part of a team or class increases social skills and widens friendship circles. Overall, it improves their ability to work well in a team which is a life skill needed in adulthood and working life.
Sports, obstacle courses and different types of exercise improves attention and focus. This is a great skill children and teenagers can apply in the classroom and other extracurricular activities which will result in better grades and greater success.
Improves decision making
Who should they pass the ball to? How should they get around their opponent? Exercise improves discernment which is necessary in all aspects of life. Quick thinking and creative problem solving is an important skill that can be gained.
Improves personal growth
Achieving personal goals and seeing physical or mental improvements is a major by-product of taking part in exercise. Witnessing personal growth is often what fuels the devotion in gym-goers.
Reduces risk of depression, anxiety & stress
Exercise releases endorphins which are chemicals that relieve stress and pain. Exercising also releases serotonin and dopamine which are known as happy hormones and are key in combatting depression and anxiety.
Can help children feel in control
It’s a no-brainer that children can feel that they aren’t in charge of situations since they must depend on adults. Sports and exercise can completely reverse that as whatever activity they are taking part in is solely controlled by them. This is a huge benefit to children who may be from troubled backgrounds.
Most youngsters will have a smart phone, tablet, or videogame not too far out of reach, although these gadgets are great stimulation for their brains, sometimes it can be a little too much. Keeping a child or teenager physically active regularly during the week will help to better regulate their sleep.
Having a sense of independence and freedom is key to a healthy state of mind in a child or teenager. Engaging in exercise or sports is a safe way to implement this.
In conclusion, if we can get our kids to become aware of these benefits and experience some of the above from an early age, as they get older, they may be more inclined to exercise even if they don’t have an interest in sports. This will create a healthier and happier generation.