The Social-Emotional, Cognitive and Physical Benefits of Physical Activity

Last Updated: 13 Jan 2021
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The social-emotional, cognitive and physical benefits of physical activity During childhood our body and mind changes very fast. I believe that nowadays parents focus more on the brain developement of their children than their physical activity. When I was a little girl - over 20 years ago - we spent most of our time outside playing, running and enjoying fresh air and being in movement. Physical activity of children can secure them health and well being in their adulthood as well as teach them a lot of very importants aspects like social relations and behaviors in different situations.

Now I see that a lot of children spend their time at home or at after school activities that don’t involve a lot of movement. According to Child Development and Education “a series of studies shows that reductions in physical education are not associated with increase in academic achievement”. It is important to teach a children how to play piano or improve their mathematical skills but we should also remember how important is a physical activity in their development.

Also as Child Development and Education states: “One of the problems is that adults tend to want children to remain still and quiet, particularly in groups, whereas many children prefer more rambunctious activities. ” According to The Journal of Pediatrics physical activities of children vary with age, type of exercise, and setting. Physical activity begins in infancy with pushing up, turning, crawling, and eventually walking, and it progresses to more complex activities as neuromuscular control develops.

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Basic movement patterns develop during preschool ages and are the foundation for a wide range of physical activities at later ages. With growth, maturation, and experience, basic movements are integrated and coordinated into more specialized and complex movement skills that characterize the free play, games, sports, and other activities of school-age youth. Guided instruction and supervised practice, specifically by qualified teachers, coaches, and others who work with children, are important in learning movement skills. Types and contexts of activities are variable and change with age during childhood and adolescence.

Activities of children aged 6 to 9 years are largely anaerobic (as in non-sustained activities or games such as ‘‘tag’’), and they help the child learn basic and more specialized motor skills. As youth move into the pubertal transition (about age 10-14 years, earlier in girls than in boys), these skills are incorporated into a variety of individual and group activities and many organized sports. Mature structure and function are approached or attained in late adolescence (age 15-18 years), so that physical activity programs can be more structured.

Physical activity has not only physical benefits. It also has a very big impact on social-emotional and cognitive aspects of child’s live. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “The development of a physically active lifestyle is a goal for all children. Traditional team and competitive sports may promote healthy activity for selected youth. Individual sports, noncompetitive sports, lifetime sports, and recreational activities expand the opportunity for activity to everyone.

The opportunity to be active on a regular basis, as well as the enjoyment and competence gained from activity, may increase the chances that a physically active lifestyle will be adopted. ” Team sports for example not only provide physical activity for children. They also introduce them to the meaning of “teamwork” and ability to find their own place in a group. Especially in sports, where roles change and they need to wait for their turn. When I was little we used to play badminton but unfortunately had only two sets of rackets that we needed to share.

There was usually 6-8 of us playing together and I remember how we managed to be a public and players. This was one of my first lesson of sharing and adapting into a situation that I can’t change. Also it is important for children to learn a little bit about competition, since it is present in our whole lives. We have competition at work, college and different areas in our lives and I hardly believe that when person learns that sometimes you are first, sometimes second and sometimes last as early as you are a child it will be easier for the person to accept that you can’t be always first in adult life.

During physical activities children interact with each other and getting to know their friends. Very often on the outdoor playgrounds we can see how quickly they meet other children. If they get bored they start looking for a new friend that can play with them. Encouraging children to those type of behaviors teach them how to be open in relationships with new people in their lives and how to interact with new friends. Adults should be aware of the right ways in encouraging their children’s physical activity.

It is very important to know, that physical activity is an essential part of children’s day and teachers as well as parents should know how to promote it among children. First of all they should remember about even short activity breaks in between learning. The Journal of Pediatrics states that “The recommended 60 minutes or more of physical activity can be achieved in a cumulative manner in school during physical education, recess, intramural sports, and before and after school programs.

In this regard, the Centers for Disease Control recommends daily quality physical education from kindergarten through grade 12. Both physical education and recess afford opportunities to achieve the daily physical activity goal without any evidence of compromising academic performance. Opportunities to influence youth participation in physical activities are readily available at home and school, as well as in community and health care settings. ” They should also Provide an appropriate equipment and make exercising an enjoyable experience.

Children tent to get bored if they do one thing for a long time, that is why diversity in exercising is very important. As a adults we should remember how important it is to take care of the physical activities of children. They can not only stay in good physical shape because of them but also develop on many other levels like social, emotional and cognitive. References McDevitt T. M. Ormord J. E. , (2012). Child Development and Education. 5th ed. USA: Pearson, pp. 157-77 WILLIAM B. STRONG, MD, ROBERT M. MALINA, PHD, CAMERON J. R. BLIMKIE, PHD, STEPHEN R.

DANIELS, MD, PHD, RODNEY K. DISHMAN, PHD, BERNARD GUTIN, PHD, ALBERT C. HERGENROEDER, MD, AVIVA MUST, PHD, PATRICIA A. NIXON, PHD,JAMES M. PIVARNIK, PHD, THOMAS ROWLAND, MD, STEWART TROST, PHD, AND FRANCXOIS TRUDEAU, PHD,, (2005). EVIDENCE BASED PHYSICAL ACTIVITY FOR SCHOOL-AGE YOUTH. The Journal of Pediatrics. e. g. 32 (e. g. 2), pp. 732-7 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Guidelines for school and community programs to promote lifelong physical activity among young people. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 1997;46(RR-6):1–36

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The Social-Emotional, Cognitive and Physical Benefits of Physical Activity. (2017, Feb 03). Retrieved from

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