Establishing healthy lifelong habits

Involvement in activities that keep youth physically fit and healthy will have long lasting benefits.

There are several benefits of being physically active and healthy for both adults and children. According to Michigan State University Extension, increasing physical activity for yourself and your children are well worth the extra time and effort. A few benefits of physical activity include pure enjoyment, a release of stress, sense of competence and achievement, social interaction, lower risk of being overweight, learning new skills and interests as well as, greater strength, endurance, efficient heart and circulatory system, and increased mental alertness.  As you watch children run and play you can see the enjoyment they get from moving their body.  This is referred to as their motor drive.  This is an inborn drive in most children that prompts them to move.  Infants fulfill this drive when they are learning to stand up and do so by pulling themselves up on furniture.  The next step for infants is learning to crawl and eventually moving on to walking. As a child approaches preschool they have developed the motor drive that keeps them running and jumping around.  This is an excellent window of opportunity to instill healthy physical lifelong habits.

Keep in mind that there are a few things that could keep children inactive.  Your child’s temperament will affect their level of activity.  A child like this will need extra encouragement to attain the benefits of physical activity.  If space is limited or the area is not safe this will keep a child from being active as well.  Also, being allowed to watch television and play video games for an excessive amount of time will hinder children from being physically active.  Limited self-esteem and a lack of confidence will keep children from becoming active as well. The most important thing a parent can do is to remain positive about the child’s activity.  Be positive about their skills and avoid making fun of their ability.  Show appreciation for your child’s physical activity and you will lay the foundation of lifelong habits!

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