active children

Keeping your Child Active during the School Holidays

Active children

If your children do a lot of sports and after-school clubs, you may find that they are bursting with energy during the school holidays. Keeping their energy level up is a great idea to promote continued health and fitness, although this is often easier said than done! It can make things [...] Read more →

healthy snack

Healthy Snacks for Kids

Snacking can be really bad for children, but most children will crave tasty treats throughout the day.

Most children do need some additional food between mealtimes, to help to sustain their growing bodies and to give them vital nutrients. Snacks are especially important for really active children, such as those who do a lot of [...] Read more →

physical activities

Physical Activity Guidelines for Children

Physical activity is very important for those who wish to stay healthy. Babies and young children should strive to meet physical activity guidelines if they want to develop normally.

Remaining active also helps to encourage continued flexibility and the development of motor skills. Guidelines for physical activities differ depending on the age of the person [...] Read more →

Recommended Sites

Lots of information and recommended guidelines from the NHS on childrens health. Click the image to visit.

NHS Choices

Detailed information and resources from the UK government website. Click the image to visit.

Gov UK

Activities to Strengthen Muscles and Bones

It is important for children to engage in physical activity to encourage their physical development. All physical activities help children to develop their motor skills, but some activities also help children to develop mental skills as well.

Different physical activities also help children to develop certain areas of their bodies. Your child’s paediatrician may actually suggest certain types of exercise if they want to encourage improved development in areas where the existing development has started to slow.

Guidelines for Physical Activities in Children

The recommended amount of physical activity for children differs depending on how old they are. Babies are encouraged to move through play when they are not asleep. These movements encourage muscles and joints to develop. Infants should also be given “tummy time” where they are allowed to reach and move about whilst on their stomach. This helps to prevent their range of movements from becoming restricted.

Once they are able to walk more confidently, toddlers require at least 180 minutes of physical activity per day, and more vigorous activities are encouraged, especially if they have been forced to remain sedentary at any point during the day. Changes in movement from moderate to vigorous exercises are best for physical development.

Children who are over the age of 5 only require 60 minutes of physical activity per day, which should range from moderate to vigorous. There should be a fairly even balance between moderate and vigorous activities to continue to develop muscle growth and coordination. It is important that children spend at least 90 minutes per week (three 30 minute sessions) doing exercises that specifically build strong muscles and strong bones.

Building Muscle Strength

Building muscle strength is important, because muscles control movement and affect coordination.

Muscle strength is necessary for general daily activities and helps to reduce weakness and fatigue. Muscle strengthening activities are activities which generally require children to work against a stronger form of resistance. Doing a mixture of muscle strengthening activities will help them to build a range of different muscle groups.

Many activities that are specifically enjoyed by children include a muscle building aspect, and therefore children may not need to set out to specifically perform muscle strengthening activities. These activities include pastimes like; swinging on the monkey bars in the park, climbing trees, completing assault courses, and engaging in games like tug of war. Children’s football, rugby and tennis also help children to build muscle.

Older children may need to set out to specifically do muscle-strengthening activities by carefully choosing sports that build different muscle groups. Options that could appeal to older children may include; sit-ups, press-ups, resistance training (weights, exercise bands), rock climbing, basketball, and gymnastics.

Strengthening Bones

Bone-strengthening activities are designed to promote bone growth and strength. This is important for children whilst they are still growing, because it encourages healthy bone growth. It also reduces the risks associated with weak bones, including breaks and sprains.

kids martial arts

Kids martial arts

Bone-strengthening activities also require children to work against resistance or work to lift their own body weight. Most playground equipment and non-static toys (tricycles etc) encourage bone strengthening through increased movement. Climbing frames are particularly useful. Skipping with a rope is an excellent choice, because it involves bone strengthening activities in both the arms (turning the rope) and the legs (jumping over the rope). Other playground games like hopscotch are also encouraged, because they build coordination as well as bone strength.

Gymnastics, dance and martial arts are all good choices for people who are looking for bone strengthening activities. This is because they encourage controlled movements against resistance and use the whole body.

Older children may find that they would prefer to be involved in organised team sports. There are plenty of choices for those who are looking for sports that build bone strength, including; rugby, netball, hockey and football.

Those participating in contact sports should listen carefully to the instruction of their coaches so that they know how to minimise the risk of injury. If your child has suffered an injury because of negligence all reputable sports clubs should be covered by their insurance company if a personal injury claim is started against them. Alternatively, they can try non-contact variants of these sports, such as Tag Rugby.

For those who prefer to exercise alone, weight training is a possibility. Weight training is normally only recommended for young adults who are over the age of 15.

Before your child engages in any weight training, they must complete an induction at the gym, so that they will understand how to use the weights safely. Incorrect usage of weight equipment can be dangerous and may put unnatural strain onto the body. This can do more harm than good.

Most gyms will advise that weights over a certain mass should not be used without a spotter. A spotter is a person who is on-hand to help the lifter if they were to get into any trouble with the weights that they are using. Some gyms also put weight restrictions onto young adults.

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