The AAP recently recommended that children need to be physically active for a total of 60 minutes. Here are 2 reasons why this minimum is providing job security for occupational therapists everywhere.
Growing children need exercise. Well, honestly, everyone needs exercise. But if a child doesn’t receive a lot of activity, the result is weaker muscles. If muscles are weak enough, if a child’s core strength is lacking, it will be difficult to sit up in a chair, when this is difficult, a child will act up. Not because they are trying to be bad, but because they are tired of sitting up so they try to compensate for that by moving around, trying to relieve the exhaustion. This translates to wiggly kids who can’t sit still in class.
How do you strengthen your core?
- riding bikes
- spinning in circles
- hanging upside down from a jungle gym
- climbing and general “kid play”
A child’s mind is strengthened by active play. There are jokes that circulate social media about how kids today need constant entertainment. They need stimulated and play provided for them through safe and planned-out activities. Previous generations on the other hand were told to go outside and play and not come home until dinner. Play grounds from previous generations have been torn down and rebuilt with safer, more accessible play things that will help prevent injuries. The lack of free, active play has resulted in a generation of children with weak brains. Their ability to think for themselves, to create play, to imagine a world that keeps them busy for hours on end is non-existent anymore.
An hour of physical activity is not what our children need.
They need a chance to delight in the wonders of the outdoors – without the interference of well-meaning adults.
They need playground equipment that allow them to push the boundaries of what feels and looks “safe”, in order for them to learn how to be bold and confident adults.
They need opportunities to sit and occupy themselves with the world they create in their own minds in order to be successful in school.
We are handicapping our children if an hour of physical activity is all that is provided for.
Teachers: encourages your students to find ways to be active and play during school. Find ways to get kids outside and exploring. Provide opportunities for active, discovery-based learning that allows kids the opportunity to move their bodies and their minds.
Parents: don’t be fooled by the professionals, your kids need more than an hour of physical activity a day. The more active play your children engage in, the better off they will be in school, and in life.