Sport is important for a child’s healthy development, both mentally and physically. But exercise should not be neglected even in adulthood. So why not do sports together as a whole family? Excess pounds or a lack of exercise are harmful to health at any age. But first and foremost, parents should be good role models for their children when it comes to a healthy lifestyle. In addition to a balanced diet and avoiding addictive substances such as cigarettes or alcohol, this also includes sufficient exercise. The earlier the children learn to integrate exercise into their everyday life, the higher the likelihood that they will continue this habit into adolescence and adulthood. Conversely, the risk of obesity increases in later life if it was acquired in childhood. The same applies to eating habits acquired in childhood: In most cases, these continue into adulthood and have a major influence on the state of health.
German children eat unhealthily and do not exercise enough
Unfortunately, the numbers are frightening: German children eat too little fruit and vegetables. You consume enough calories, but more from sugar and unhealthy foods such as finished goods. In combination with a chronic lack of exercise, this means that many German children are too fat. At least 90 minutes of exercise a day and regular exercise should be part of everyday life for the child. Because exercise not only has a positive effect on the body, weight, the cardiovascular system, and numerous other physical aspects but also on a mental level. Those who do sport regularly have developmental abilities. This is particularly noticeable, but by no means only in children who are still in the process of intellectual development. Every movement is registered via sensory organs and thus means a form of activity in the brain. As a result, movement and a child’s intellectual development are directly related. Numerous studies have shown, for example, that children who can walk backward better also do better in math class.
Sport also has a positive effect on the child’s well-being
Investigations have shown that anyone who actively moves for at least ten minutes a day has a significantly increased level of serotonin, i.e. the happiness hormone. These people are in a better mood, feelings of fear are reduced and their well-being is also significantly increased, for example in the sense of a reduction in chronic pain. Children who exercise enough continue to benefit from:
- overall improved health and a stronger immune system.
- better-developed motor skills and a more realistic feeling for one’s own physical abilities. The children can also assess their limits more specifically and develop a good sense of balance.
- stronger bones, which is especially important in old age. The foundations for a dense and stable bone substance are laid in childhood through sufficient exercise and a balanced diet.
- strengthened muscles and thus also improved posture. On the one hand, this has a preventive effect against damage to the spine, on the other hand, the “posture” literally also has a psychological effect in the sense of increased self-confidence.
- a greater self-confidence, which continues to arise from the fact that the children learn to better assess their physical strength. In sport, they playfully compete with their peers, record initial successes and increasingly trust themselves.
- Better social skills, because at the same time the children also have to learn to deal with defeat, to show consideration for other children, or to coordinate their movements with them, depending on the sport. Therefore, (additional) sporting activities in teams or teams are particularly recommended.
Parents should support their children’s natural urge to move
No, a child is not immediately hyperactive just because the chair begins to wobble after sitting still for a long time. Instead, children have a natural urge to move. Getting up, running, jumping, or playing is a basic need as is eating, drinking, and sleeping. Unfortunately, children in German society are often withdrawn from this urge to move around at an early age. They should sit, listen, learn and perform. But if you really want to do your children a favor, you should encourage their natural urge to move, and even more: be inspired by it. It would also be good for adults to get more exercise in everyday life. Playing catch with the children or romping around in the playground is a good start. There are also numerous opportunities to do sports as a family and thereby stay or get fit together.