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Learning Through Play

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Learning Through Play
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The importance of movement and physical activity

For children, physical activity and movement enhances fitness, fosters growth and development, and helps teach them about their world. We recognize that most children are innately physically active. During recess, we see them running, jumping, throwing, and kicking in this unstructured environment. It is what they do naturally...they enjoy active play! So why promote physical activity in children? Here's why.

Children t oday are in creasingly migrating toward sedentary alternatives. Children ride in a car or bus to school, have less physical education, watch more television, play more sedentary games such as computer generated games, and do not have as much freedom to play outside on their own as with previous generations. Consequently, children are becoming less physically active and more overweight and obese. According to the Center for Disease Control, physical inactivity has contributed to the 100% increase in childhood obesity in the United States since 1980. Childhood obesity is a major concern for a number of reasons.

  • Obesity in children is a major risk factor for a number of diseases (diabetes, hypertension, elevated blood cholesterol);
  • Childhood obesity tends to lead to adult obesity;
  • Adults who were obese as children have increased morbidity and mortality irrespective of adult weight; and
  • Overweight adolescents may suffer long-term social and economic discrimination.

Other important benefits physical activity promotes include:

Physical Health Benefits

Improved fitness, strength, flexibility and coordination;

Improved general health and assistance in weight management;

Development of a wide range of motor skills;

Healthy growth and development of the cardio-respiratory system as well as the

bones and muscles of children;

  • Promotes students' capacity for learning; and
  • Establishment of healthy behaviors that young people will carry throughout their

lives, such as better eating habits and decreased likelihood of smoking.

Mental Health Benefits

Improved self esteem and confidence;

Reduction in stress, anxiety and depression;

Improved mood and sense of wellbeing;

Improved concentration, enhanced memory and learning, and better performance at


Reduced feelings of fatigue and depression; and

Improved psychological wellbeing and mental awareness.

Social Benefits

Development of communication, interpersonal, leadership and co-operation skills;

Creation of lasting friendships;

Increased interest in accepting responsibility;

Teaches them how to deal with winning and losing;

Provides a vehicle for responsible risk taking;

Helps build social skills among children and may deter anti social behavior; and

Helps young people develop self-discipline and leadership.


With these facts in mind, it is imperative that we, as parents and teachers, help reduce the amount of physical inactivity, by increasing the amount of physical activity opportunities that children have throughout the school day.

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