Why physical activities are so important for child and adolescent development? | Health

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Physical activity includes the movement of the body wherein energy is used. It could be anything like commuting from one place to another or doing some work or just playing. All children love to play, it is something that comes naturally to children and adolescents. But at the time of the digital era, regular physical activities are replaced by virtual games. Remember the gun you had when you were a child playing on the field with your friends and the doll whom you fed while you ate your meals? Physical activity, whether it be moderate or vigorous, benefits general health. It promotes mood and sleep metabolism in addition to physical fitness and exercises tolerance. (Also read: More physical activity, less screen time linked to better functioning in babies )

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr. Paula Goel, Consultant Pediatrician, Adolescent Physician and the Founder of Fayth Clinic, says, “Being physically active is just as important for teens as much as younger children, rather it’s more challenging to incorporate it into their hectic schedules. The majority of adolescents are not getting the right amount of physical activity they need. Instead, they spend most of their time in front of the screen living a sedentary lifestyle giving rise to health conditions like obesity and diabetes which are increasingly seen in adolescents.”

She added, “When adolescents feel stressed or upset or just need to vent out some frustration, physical activity is the perfect outlet for them. We must understand the importance of physical activity and encourage and help our children and adolescents to develop long-lasting fitness habits that will keep them healthy and happy for years to come.” She further explained how regular physical activity can benefit the child and adolescent development.

  • Children and adolescents love to play because they bond with their friends. It improves their social and communication skills.
  • Sports provide them with a very good opportunity to release and replenish their energies. Physical activity increases muscle fitness and cardiorespiratory fitness increases oxygen-carrying capacity to the lungs and improves the flow of oxygen to the brain and all organs of the body.
  • Children and adolescents become sharper and more focused in concentration, their memory improves and hence academics also improve.
  • Physical activity increases the release of endorphins which is a Happy hormone that improves the mood thus making the person happier and joyful. Hence, physical activity can also be termed a mood elevator.
  • During physical activity, the blood flow to the skin increases and that increases sweating. physical activity increases the metabolism and burns fat hence it improves the metabolism leading to weight loss and preventing diseases like diabetes, and heart disease, decreasing blood pressure even in overweight and obese children and adolescents.
  • Physical activity in children and adolescents inculcates discipline and a teambuilding spirit which helps to develop leadership qualities and helping and caring characteristics.
  • Single sports like tennis, badminton, and table tennis help the child to work on themselves. Competitive sports like football, hockey, and basketball fosters team spirit and allows the child or the adolescent to develop leadership skills, share, be proactive and protective of fellow players.
  • Regular exercise has been shown to help manage and prevent noncommunicable diseases like diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and a number of cancers.
  • It also helps prevent hypertension, maintain healthy body weight and can improve mental health, quality of life and well-being of the child and adolescent.

Physical activity from an early age should be encouraged in children as it benefits their growth and development. It enhances and promotes the development of motor skills, strengthens children’s bones, muscles, hearts and lungs, and improves children’s coordination, balance, posture and flexibility, and cognitive and social skills.

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