Benefits of exercise on children’s mental health and wellbeing

by | Kids Health

Children’s mental health and wellbeing has been in the spotlight In recent months. On top of normal childhood challenges children have had added struggles to deal with due to Covid-19 restrictions and lockdowns.  

Experts say physical activity allows children to have a better outlook on life by building confidence, managing anxiety and depression, and increasing self-esteem and cognitive skills. A study in Norway concluded that moderate to vigorous activity at ages 6 to 8 years is linked to fewer symptoms of anxiety or depression 2 years later. 

The Benefits

Researchers are continually linking exercise to improving children’s physical health but it also helps improve their brain function and emotional wellbeing. All this new research and terminology can be a little overwhelming for parents which is why we love how Dr Gregg Wells has summarised the Top 3 Benefits of Physical Activity for us! 

  1. Body – when we move our bodies and are physically active we are strengthening our muscles, bones, hearts and lungs
  2. Brain – when we exercise, our minds get better – we produce something called BDNF which is a little protein that stimulates the growth of new neurons in our brain that ‘sparks learning’. Exercise also improves creativity and problem solving.   
  3. Emotions and Moods – exercise reduces anxiety, releases endorphins, improves sleep and self confidence. 

With today’s challenges in mind it is fantastic to see the powerful effect exercise has on our children’s mental health and wellbeing. In order for children to reap the benefits, parents need to feel confident and understand why their children need exercise in their life. 

A few pointers from Team RINKA  that we hope will help you achieve the Feel Good Factor for your family! 
  • Kids need to burn off excess energy so let them shake it off with a dance around the kitchen after dinner, create a fun obstacle course in the garden, take an afternoon walk or evening stroll or anything that gets those little bodies moving! 
  • Remember the recommended daily exercise requirement for children is 60 mins and also remember this can be achieved in smaller time slots and doesn’t have to happen all at once. 
  • Having burnt off all that energy during the day your little one is going to have a better quality of sleep – this will then lead to new energy to start off the next day in a happy, positive mood. It’s a simple cycle! 
  • One of the most important things for us at RINKA is the impact exercise has on self-confidence, children who master fundamental movement skills and physical activities like hopping or throwing and catching gain confidence and the more confidence they gain the more likely they are to stay engaged and feel able for new challenges. 

Lastly – make it the norm! Being active for your children should be no different than brushing their teeth, putting their uniform on or tidying up their toys. Make it FUN and not something you have to do but something you get to do!  

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