Home LifeStyleFitness Exercise: good for the body, mind and soul of your child

Exercise: good for the body, mind and soul of your child

by Tania Griffin
A girl and boy high fiving each other.

Children spend at least six hours a day at school, mostly sitting down and concentrating. While this is good for their education, their young bodies need to be active and expend energy to increase their learning abilities. That’s why physical exercise is as much a part of the school curriculum as is academic work, says Teboho Thomase, physical education teacher at SPARK Schools Soweto.

Getting children to engage in regular exercise is also a focus of the Department of Education which – in collaboration with the Physical Education Institute of South Africa – is celebrating Physical Education Month until 10 May, to coincide with Physical Education Day on 10 May.

Countless studies have shown that physical activity, concentrated and focused, does more than just make a child fit and healthy. Exercise is good for the brain, the body and the mental well-being of every child, says Thomase.

There are many benefits to regular exercise for children, including building strong bones, a healthy body weight and better sleep.

    “At SPARK Schools, all our scholars participate in physical education on a daily basis from Tuesday to Friday. This is in addition to their lunch and break times. They learn about the benefits of exercise while having the opportunity to engage in team activities,” Thomase shares. “Physical education classes also provide an opportunity for social interaction and teamwork, fostering a sense of belonging and connection with peers.”

    Physical activity is so much more than taking part in sporting activities, he adds. “Physical education is an important part of a child’s development and has many immediate and long-term benefits. That’s why we encourage our parents to get involved and get their children exercising.”

    These benefits include:

    • An enhanced learning experience – Physically active children develop language skills more easily. They respond to stimuli faster and often build strong literacy skills. 
    • Children will learn to handle stress in healthy ways and develop higher self-esteem.
    • It’s good for body positivity – Children learn exactly what they are capable of physically, and this boosts their confidence.
    • Physical activity allows for teamwork and socialisation – children learn to work together to achieve a common goal.
    • Exercising reduces stress – Children can work out their mood swings or stresses simply by walking outside.
    • Daily exercise and physical activity normalise a healthy lifestyle.

    Easy ways to get physical at home:

    • Take a walk through the neighbourhood.
    • Swim or play games in a pool.
    • Ride bikes.
    • Skip.
    • Jog.
    • Play lawn sports like cricket or volleyball.

    “While schools are ideal for physical activities as they are safe and the activities happen in controlled environments, it’s also important to encourage physical activities at home. Children should participate in 60 minutes of moderate high-intensity physical activity daily, as recommended by the World Health Organization,” Thomase concludes.

    Image credit: Freepik

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