Natalie Conway is a Physical Therapist and Regional Director with Tidewater Physical Therapy in Gloucester, Va. She is a mother, coach, clinician and proponent of living active lives from childhood on to promote healthy living at all ages.
If movement is the foundation for a healthy body, then showing children how moving can be fun is the key to instilling a lifelong love of activity.
For the mothers, like me, who need the science to back that up, here’s what we know. When children are introduced to different movements at the correct developmental stage they become proficient and confident in these movement patterns and thus develop a love for moving. And a love for moving well.
For me, that movement was gymnastics – a sport I started out competing in as a child and still coach for in Williamsburg. It promotes full body strength, power, flexibility, coordination and balance.
For your children, it could be baseball, soccer, basketball or any sport they are drawn to.
But it doesn’t have to be that formalized.
Free play on a playground that has room to run and things to hang from and climb on will do the same thing. Like gymnastics, all that climbing and swinging promotes whole body strength and coordination and balance. Running from one play set to another also fosters imagination and creativity.
No playground nearby?
Do things together as a family.
Try creating a homemade obstacle course, which you can do without any equipment. Think “add on.” The first person in the family chooses a move, like jump straight up. Everyone jumps straight up. Then the second person adds a move, like roll, and everyone has to complete the first and second moves together. Repeat until someone forgets the order or the moves, or starts laughing at all the family fun! Get some creative movements going in there and you have a total body workout for kids and parents.
Need further evidence of the importance of building that movement foundation? Here’s the emotional evidence that we, as parents, are drawn to – a love of physical activity will foster a lifetime commitment to healthy living. That’s a gift that we can give our children that really does keep on giving.
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