It’s been a rocky start to 2022, but with kindergartens and schools now back in full swing it is time to regain some balance into our children’s lives. Establishing a routine is important for children in creating healthy habits and relationships with movement and this begins from early childhood.
This formative period includes huge plasticity and potential for physical and cognitive development alike and a period where lifestyle changes and habits can be open to adaptation (World Health Organization, 2020).
The World Health Organization in 2020 produced the guidelines on physical activity, sedentary behaviour and sleep for children 5 years and under. It was found that for: “children between the ages of 1-4 years should spend at least 180 minutes in a variety of physical activities at any intensity, including moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity spread throughout the day; with more being better.”1
180 minutes can seem a large number and maybe quite a challenging prospect, however as the Guidleine Development Group for the World Health Organization stipulates, physical activity for young children is perhaps better described as “energetic play” rather than “structured exercise”.1 Encouraging children to play outside or climb a tree not only allows the child to meet the recommended physical activity requirements, but also encourages imaginative play, sensory development, gross motor development and more.
Disguising physical activity can also be a way to meet the requirements. For example setting fun little challenges like performing 5 sit-to-stands every ad break or even finding exercise online programs can be a fun way to include “energetic play” into everyday activities as well as limiting sedentary screen time in children.
Re-establishing an equilibrium into our children’s daily lives can begin with regular encouragement for energetic play each day. Children love to play! so let’s continue to support their imaginations and energetic spirits to ensure we are meeting the physical activity requirements.
1 World Health Organisation. WHO guidelines on physical activity, sedentary behaviour and sleep for children under 5 years of age. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2020; https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/311664/978924155053eng.pdf?sequence=1