In Part Two of this series I looked at diet from two to seven years old with the emphasis on developing a healthy immune system in a relatively short window of time. This week I look at declining activity levels for this age group.
In this series I explore the crucial elements of the different age groups, and also stages of life, such as puberty, pre-pregnancy, during pregnancy, menopause (male and female) and as we become more sedentary.
The saying – ‘give me a child until he is seven and I will show you the man‘ Aristotle and other wise men… is also appropriate in the context of lifelong health.
These years are crucial for the development of the immune system, but also for brain function, bone density and healthy digestive and reproductive systems. Since this is one of the most critical periods in our development, I am now looking at the physical activity needed to build healthy bones and major organs in this age group and will follow that up with a post on the key deficiencies playing a major role in obesity and also child development next week.
It does depend where you live in the world, and access to the outdoors, but I think it is safe to say, than any of us over 50 enjoyed more freedom as a child. I certainly was out the door and playing on our nearby beach, on a bombsite waiting to be cleared, and either riding my bike or racing up and down on the forecourt of our local garage on my roller skates. At the weekends I turned up for meals, hungry after several hours at the skate park or from cycling five miles or from swimming at the local pool. We walked to school and I did that from four years old until I was 16. We only had one car and my father took that to work, so it was the bus or save the fare to add to my pocket money.
I will put my violin away now and 60 year old memories and share some of the statistics for children today.
“The number of children meeting the recommended amount of physical activity for healthy development and to maintain a healthy weight, which is 60 minutes a day, drops by 40% as they move through primary school. Currently, just 23% of boys and 20% of girls meet the national recommended level of activity. Furthermore, 1 in 5 children start primary school overweight or obese, rising to more than a third by the time they leave.” Gov.UK
Why at least an hour of physical activity per day (three is better) is so important for children to prevent obesity, and to improve mental and emotional well-being.
“Regular physical activity in children is associated with lower body mass , blood pressure, insulin levels and improved mental wellbeing . Despite its health benefits, many children and young people do not meet the current UK guidelines of an hour per day of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) on most days of the week . Moreover, physical activity levels decline during childhood, with the end of primary school (10-11 years) being a critical stage of change. Preventing the decline in physical activity that occurs at this age is therefore a key public health target .” International Journal of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity
I appreciate that the outdoors is not always accessible for the 2 to 7 years old age group and it is understandable that they cannot go out these days without supervision, but if they are at kindergarten or primary school, they should be getting organised physical activity regularly during the day.
I have found a few videos to give you an idea of the exercises a baby and toddler can be enjoying in the home… and also more organised programmes that are likely to be available locally.
There are recommended exercises for babies up to two years old including tummy time to help strengthen neck, shoulders and abdominal muscles. Crawling in a safe space is a great activity especially if you have a personal trainer to hand. Uploaded by Caters Clips
Once a toddler is able to walk and until 7 years old,it is recommended that they have at least three hours of mixed activities over the day
And there are various training aids to help a baby develop physical strength including a little climbing. Uploaded by Best Babies Youtube
And an extraordinary video that is so inspiring to watch and one of the best exercises for us all… swimming. uploaded by ditto art
And finally in the toddlers section dancing…uploaded by Rumble Viral
Next week a look at school lunches and the rising number of parents sending children to school with packed lunches, not always as nutritionally dense as they should be.
©Sally Cronin Just Food for Health 1998 – 2022
My nutritional background
I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty-four years experience working with clients in Ireland and the UK as well as being a health consultant on radio in Spain.
Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago, based on my own weight loss of 154lbs. My first clinic was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Since then I have written a men’s health manual, and anti-aging programme, articles for magazines, radio programmes and posts here on Smorgasbord.
As always I look forward to your comments and if you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask them.. thanks Sally.