Sep 01, 2022

The Importance of Physical Activity for Children in the Early Years

Pre-School boy climbing up wooden 'rock climbing' frame 

Getting physical is one of the most important activities that we can take part in, to nurture our bodies and take care of our health and wellbeing. Within all of our nurseries, children are encouraged to spend time outdoors and engage in activities that focus on improving their physical abilities.

For children and young people, being active has a wide range of benefits

• Helps to develop physical skills such as agility, balance and coordination
• Builds up muscle strength and overall fitness
• Helps them to avoid becoming overweight or obese
• Improves concentration in school
• Contributes to a healthy appetite
• Helps to reduce the risk of ill health in later life
• Improves overall health and fitness and helps children maintain a healthy weight to prevent childhood obesity

It has been shown that children who develop an active lifestyle when they are young are more likely to maintain a healthy active lifestyle as they get older. Outdoor play provides great opportunities for learning, for example children can learn about the environment around them. Playing with other children can develop their social skills and help build their confidence. Within our nurseries, we encourage participation of physical activity throughout each room, ensuring the children continue to feel motivated and inspired to be active and healthy in everyday life.

Not only do these activities provide children with many physical health benefits, but it can also help to improve their mental health and cognitive development with benefits such as:

• Improving sleep and energy levels
• Helping them develop social skills and gain confidence
• Making children feel good whilst elevating their mood
• Helping children to relieve stress and maintain mental and emotional wellbeing

Physical activity ideas for under 5s

All movement counts. The more the better.

  • tummy time
  • playing with blocks and other objects
  • messy play
  • jumping
  • walking
  • dancing
  • swimming
  • playground activities
  • climbing
  • skipping
  • active play, like hide and seek
  • throwing and catching
  • scooting
  • riding a bike
  • outdoor activities

Physical activity guidelines for other age groups:

GOV.UK has more information, plus physical activity infographics for every age group.

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