Physical Exercise (1-4 years)

During this period of growth, intensive sport isn´t advisable, although moderate physical activity is considered to be a healthy habit that should be encouraged from early childhood.

An hour a day of normal physical activity is recommended, in the form of typical children´s games and activities (running in the park, playing on the swings or with a ball, etc.) or in organised activities in sports classes (swimming, basketball, tennis, etc.).

If a child is engaged in sports with more than 20 hours of regular training sessions a week, special attention should be paid to food, as apart from meeting the energy needs for the physical activity, it will be important to reserve a part of the nutrients for the continuity of adequate growth and development.

These are some of the benefits of regular sport:

  • Strong bones and muscles.
  • Weight control.
  • Reduction of risk of type 2 diabetes.
  • Better quality of sleep.
  • Better perspective on life.
  • Greater academic motivation, alertness and success.
  • Improved self-esteem at any age.

How to Motivate Them to Keep Active?

There are three key points to encouraging children to engage in physical activity:

  • Choose an appropriate activity for their age, as not to do so may tire and demotivate them.
  • Propose the possible options for activities, as children need their parents to facilitate the chosen activity, provide them with the necessary equipment and take them to the places where the matches are played or the sport is practised.
  • Try to make the sport fun, as at this age children should associate sport with having fun. If they enjoy an activity, they will want to do it more frequently.

What are the Appropriate Activities for this Age Group?

At this age, more time is usually spent in sedentary activities (TV, computer, videogames, etc.). Parents should aim to help their children to find physical activities that they enjoy and are good at, and they should get involved and practise activities together.

They could be sports like basketball, football, cycling, swimming, rhythmic gymnastics, skating, dance, etc., putting an emphasis on outdoor activities.

In the early years, children learn basic skills and rules, and it might be that they show aptitude for certain athletic activities only.

As they grow, differences in skills and personality will become clearer.

The degree of interest and commitment that they acquire for certain activities is usually in parallel with their skills, and this is why it´s important to help them find the right activities for their age. Don´t forget to find the necessary time to share with your children.

Passive entertainment (computer, videogames, TV, etc.) has been related with an increase in obesity and the eating of hyper-calorific and low nutritional content foods, and for this reason it is recommended that this activity does not exceed more than two hours a day at this age.


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