Paediatric Exercise Physiology: How we can help your child reach their goals

Do you believe your child would benefit from physical activity and requires some help? If so, then this article might be for you. 

We have all heard how important physical activity and exercise is for a child’s health, development and confidence. However, for some children, participating in physical activity isn’t as easy or as fun as it sounds. No two children are the same, and there can be many factors that can affect their ability or willingness to engage in physical activity. Some of these factors include different conditions, disabilities or injuries

Every child comes with individual traits and complexities, which highlights the importance of finding the right physical activity for each child.

Some children aren’t the ‘sporty’, ‘athletic’ or ‘confident’ type and that’s okay. Unfortunately however, this might mean that their willingness, desire or even ability to participate in physical activity just isn’t there. This can impact both the opportunities and enjoyment they get as a child as well as their development, both physically and mentally.

The lists of positive benefits a child can get from engaging in physical activity are endless. Developing strong muscles and bones, managing weight and strengthening their lungs and heart  are some of the more obvious ones. However some other benefits that can often go overlooked is increasing coordination, improving concentration, assisting energy levels, boosting immunity and improving their confidence. 

Children should not be held back from enjoying physical activity because of a condition, disability or injury. Physical activity can even play an important role in helping a child get the most out of life and ease or treat their condition. If your child wants to be achieving something that they currently can’t do, or wants to get involved in a different activity but feels restricted, then setting some exercise and physical activity based goals to achieve this can be the perfect way to assist them and motivate them.

Different conditions, disabilities and injuries can affect children in different ways. Sometimes a child may not be as confident to engage with other children, as they feel insecure about their capabilities or ‘differences’. However, regular engagement in physical activity has shown to improve a child’s self esteem. This improved self esteem can make a child feel more comfortable and confident to engage with others and increase the positive experiences and opportunities that they experience in life. 

A child’s coordination may also be impacted making it hard for them to complete certain daily tasks or enjoyable activities. This at times may have a negative impact on their quality of life. Through regular physical activity we can improve both fine and gross motor skills. This will leave them more capable of completing daily tasks and get the most out of enjoyable activities. If a child is able to be more independent, they will notice less of the things they can’t do, leaving them with a more positive mindset. 

Exercise and physical activity is also a form of management and treatment that is often overlooked for children living with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). In terms of ADHD, the benefits of physical activity are through 

changes in brain structure, enhanced neurotransmitters and arousal regulation.  Research has shown that exercise stimulates the brain in a similar way to the medications and it comes without negative effects. 

As for ASD, research has shown that exercise has led to a 37% improvement in symptoms of ASD, specifically behavioural and academic improvement. The research showed reductions in stereotypical behaviour patterns, and improvements in verbal and non-verbal social communication skills. The same research also reported that a parent’s perceptions of their child’s quality of life improved.

Now, you may have known these benefits, but you still might not know how to engage your child in more physical activity. Thankfully the solution is simple, make it appealing! Children love having fun and moving around. Find something they enjoy and watch them reap the rewards and achieve any goals that they may have.

 If your child has greater difficulty engaging in physical activity due to a condition or disability and requires more structured (but still enjoyable) exercise then we are more than happy to help them reach their goals. No child should feel left out and they should be making the most of their childhood, and if you believe we can help then please get in contact!

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