How fitness training helps your child

Children who  get regular exercise happier, do better at school and have better concentration and attention. 

The CDC states, “…physical activity can have an impact on cognitive skills and attitudes and academic behavior, all of which are important components of improved academic performance. These include enhanced concentration and attention as well as improved classroom behavior.” - See more at: http://www.sparkpe.org/blog/how-physical-activity-affects-academic-perfo...

Children with movement difficulties are often less active, and do not participate in the many group activities that provide opportunities for physical activity. 

There are several reasons why children with conditions that affect motor control and coordination  (DCD, autism, joint hypermobility, very cautious/anxious temperament) have poor fitness levels and avoid participation in group activities: 

  • Muscle weakness - linked to underlying joint hypermobility/low muscle tone and avoidance of physically challenging activities
  • Tightness in some muscles - children with joint hypermobility often have muscle tightness in the hip and shoulder muscles
  • Avoidance of activities that are challenging or require intense physical effort - usually associated with having a very cautious/anxious nature
  • Poor cardiovascular fitness - linked to avoidance and lack of opportunities for getting fitter. 

Fitness levels, muscle weakness and poor flexibility can be improved 

Children with conditions such as autism, DCD, joint hypermobility/low muscle tone and a very cautious/anxious temperament face many challenges in their daily lives.  

Muscle weakness, discomfort associated with poor flexibility, and lack of stamina because of poor fitness levels increase the challenges the child faces each day. 

Improving fitness is easy - it just takes some dedicated time and the right sort of practice, and will help your child to cope better at home and at school. 

Benefits of parent led fitness training

An important reason for embarking on a parent lead fitness training program is that you can identify the particular tasks or activities you and your child would like to improve, work on them in a systematic manner until a desired level of fitness has been achieved. 

Mark would like to run all the way around the soccer field, a task that is part of PE lessons. It really upset him that he is left far behind each time. 

This is a long term goal, that with a bit of leg muscle strength training, along with some jumping activities and sprint training in the garden he should be able to achieve in 6 weeks time. 

You can also set up your training program to allow the your child to experience success right from the beginning, and in this way build confidence and improve motivation to try more challenging tasks. 

Setting achievable goals with measurable outcome allows you and your child to get better at understanding how to structure ongoing efforts to improve task performance on a range of activities that need practice. 

Mark's training program includes standing broad jumps covering a distance of 60cm. On day one he is able to do 5 jumps over this distance.  He manages 2 sets. 

On day 2, Mark decides that his goal is 8 jumps across a distance of 60cm.  With great persistence he manages this goal and is elated.  

Resources

SPARK http://www.sparkpe.org/early-childhood/

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