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Being physically active every day is important for the healthy growth and development of babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers. As parents, we need to minimise the amount of time our children spend watching TV, playing computer games and constant playing with the iPad.

When considering the term “being physically active”, it means that the activity of any intensity should be encouraged, including light activity and more energetic physical activity.

Below are the following activities for babies and toddlers:

  • Babies

I’m sure most parents wonder what kind of activities babies can do. However, babies can be involved in exercising and should be encouraged to be active right from birth. Before your baby begins to crawl, encourage them to be physically active by reaching and grasping, pulling and pushing, moving their head, body and limbs during daily routines, and during supervised floor play, including tummy time.

Once babies have started to show signs of moving, it is best to encourage them to be active; this has to be done in a safe environment. Always supervise your child.           

  •  Toddlers

Research has shown that children who can walk on their own should be physically active every day for at least 180 minutes (3 hours). This should be spread throughout the day, indoors or outside.

The 180 minutes can include light activity such as standing up, moving around, rolling and playing, as well as more energetic activity like skipping, hopping, running and jumping. Active play, such as riding a bike, playing in water, chasing games and ball games, is the best way for this age group to be physically active.

To achieve and maintain a healthy weight, children have to be engaged in physical activities; their diet has to be healthy encompassing the right nutrients.

NOTE: Research has shown that watching TV, travelling by car, bus or being strapped into a buggy for long periods are not good for a child’s health and development. There's growing evidence that such behaviour can increase their risk of poor health.

  • Activities for children which will help keep them physically active:

•    standing up
•    moving around
•    walking at a slow pace
•    less energetic play
•    active play (such as hide and seek and stuck in the mud)
•    fast walking
•    riding a bike
•    dancing
•    swimming
•    climbing
•    skipping rope
•    gymnastics

  • Children from 5 onwards

From this age onwards, children need to do three types of physical activity each week: aerobic, muscle-strengthening and bone-strengthening activity.

In order to maintain a basic level of health, children need to do at least an hour of physical activity every day.

  • Moderate-intensity aerobic activity means you're working hard enough to raise your heart rate and break a sweat.Such activities include:

•    playing in the playground
•    riding a scooter
•    skateboarding
•    rollerblading
•    walking
•    cycling on level ground or ground with few hills

  • Vigorous-intensity aerobic activity means you're breathing hard and fast, and your heart rate has gone up.

Such activities include:
•    dancing vigorously
•    swimming
•    running
•    gymnastics
•    football
•    martial arts, such as karate
•    cycling

  • muscle-strengthening activity

For young people, muscle-strengthening activities are those that require them to lift their own body weight or to work against a resistance, such as climbing a rope.

Examples of muscle-strengthening activities:
•    games such as tug of war
•    swinging on playground equipment bars
•    gymnastics
•    rope or tree climbing
•    sit-ups, press ups etc.
•    gymnastics
•    football
•    tennis

  • Bone-strengthening activity

Bone-strengthening activities produce an impact or tension force on the bones that promotes bone growth and strength. 

Examples of bone-strengthening activities:
•    activities that require children to lift their body weight or to work against a resistance
•    jumping and climbing activities, combined with the use of playground equipment and toys
•    games such as hopscotch
•    skipping with a rope
•    walking
•    running
•    gymnastics
•    football
•    basketball
•    tennis
•    squash
•    martial arts
•    dance 
•    aerobics 
•    water-based activities
•    running
•    sports such as netball, badminton and tennis

Children of all ages should take part in activities that are appropriate for their age and stage of development.

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