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Exercise for the Underactive and Overactive Child

Updated: Jul 8, 2021

There is no question that children are becoming more sedentary, and moving much less than previous generations. According to Australia’s Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines, young children should accumulate at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day. And to achieve additional health benefits, children should engage in more activity – up to several hours per day.

Why is it so important for children to exercise?

  • Improves self-esteem

  • Mental health benefits

  • Helps promote healthy growth and good weight control

  • Social opportunities to make friends

  • Helps development skills

  • Builds strong bones and muscles

  • Improves posture

But there are also plenty of children that can’t sit still, have problems with concentration and can present hyperactive; some may even be diagnosed with ADHD. And while it is importance to teach them good behavioural traits and manners, rather than telling them to “sit still” all the time, should we actually be telling them to run? A recent study released by the Journal of Paediatrics last year showed that single bouts of moderate intensity exercise may have positive implications on cognitive functioning and control in children with ADHD. And while to optimal amount is currently undetermined, it reinforces the accumulating evidence that exercise is good for brains.

As a general rule, children don’t exercise, they play. As they enter high school and their teenage years, the term exercise becomes more formal. What techniques can we use, in this modern age of video and computer games, availability to multitudes of fast food and advertising, to encourage kids to keep moving?

For children, sticking to or encouraging new interests or hobbies is a great place to start. Perhaps their best friend is playing soccer after school and they might want to play together. Encourage free play like jump rope, dancing, tag games with friends. Participate as a family – kick a football at the oval, or go for a hike on the weekend. If your child is timid, non-threatening environments such as family participation allow for decreased fear of failure.

WA Health Group’s Exercise Physiologist Emma is happy to promote exercise in your local school or community by talking to the children about the importance of exercise and remaining active, or how to make exercise fun. She also is available to assist it development of after school exercise plans or individual exercise plans for your child.

For more information, to speak to Emma or to book an appointment, contact Emma at the Canningvale Clinic on 6162 2616.

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