The stress-relieving benefits of exercise for adults is well documented and discussed and we all know that a long walk, swim or exercise class will have us feeling like new after a long, hard day. However, this ‘feel-good’ aspect of sport and exercise is rarely discussed from a child’s perspective. In fact, we don’t appreciate anywhere close to enough, the daily stresses and pressures in kids’ lives. These need to be released in a positive way if we are going to encourage positive mental health in our next generation.
While our children obviously don’t have bosses to deal with, bills to pay and decisions to make, they are dealing with anxieties of their own on a daily basis. A bully in class, a subject they struggle with, a fear of mixing with other children, a feeling of inadequacy in PE… the list is endless. The stress induced ‘fight or flight response’ in our bodies needs an outlet and exercise is the ideal way to calm the anxiety. Whether it be playing an organised sport, kicking a ball about, or going for a walk, an hour ‘letting off steam’ can be transformative for a child.
Studies show that exercise can improve alertness and concentration so an hour of exercise each evening before you start the homework session with your child would be hugely beneficial. Not only would it clear the mind before settling in to work, it would also be guaranteeing your child is getting their 60 mins a day of activity. Win win!
To top it all off, exercise helps to promote good sleep and a good night’s sleep goes hand in hand with improved mental well-being and decreased stress levels.
This last year has been exceptionally tough and our children have had to deal with a lot of changes & challenges. It is important we create a space for them to burn off energy and learn to utilise the benefits of exercise daily.
Take some steps today to improve your family’s physical and mental health.