Have you ever noticed how a little baby moves, squirms and kicks – constantly? Or perhaps you’re amazed at how your toddler runs, skips, jumps and climbs for hours? The truth is, the human body is designed to move regularly – it’s how we make sense of the world, grow and develop in many different areas.
Countless studies have shown that regular exercise is critical for children. According to Harvard researchers, exercising regularly, every day if possible, is the single most important thing you can do for your health – and this goes for both children and adults!
However, statistics show that many children today aren’t getting enough physical activity. There are several reasons for this believes parenting expert, paediatrician and author of Good Kids, Bad Habits, Jennifer Trachtenberg:
- Our current digital age encourages more screen time and sedentary activities over outdoor play or games.
- A general lack of energy or motivation to play outdoors – possibly due to poor sleep habits and poor nutrition.
- Time constraints due to an overcrowded schedule.
- Poor role modelling – where parents don’t eat well or exercise and spend too much time in front of the TV. Children follow suit.
- Environmental factors such as not enough parks nearby or safety concerns in neighbourhoods.
This lack of exercise is harming children in more ways than one- as daily movement is important for all areas of development including fine motor and gross motor skill development; social and emotional development and even speech and language development.
The danger of childhood obesity
Childhood obesity rates are continuing to rise across the globe, and this is largely due to poor habits such as an unhealthy diet and lack of exercise. Studies show that fewer than 25% of children get the recommended 60 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per day recommended by the American Medical Association.
Today’s children could be the first generation to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents thanks to unhealthier lifestyles leading to conditions such as heart disease or diabetes.
The benefits of exercise for kids
The good news is, these health-related risks can be greatly reduced with regular physical activity. Occupational therapist and co-owner of Talk Sense Early Intervention Therapy Centre in Bryanston, Tarryn Rutenburg, highlights just a few of the many benefits of exercise for kids:
- Exercise requires whole body movements involving the large muscles of the body which allows children to perform everyday tasks such as standing, walking, running, and sitting upright. Physical activity also includes eye-hand coordination skills such as ball skills (throwing, catching and kicking).
- Physical activity helps to develop the five senses, as well as two “hidden” senses or sensory foundations known as the development of the movement (vestibular) and proprioceptive (body awareness) systems.
- Movements such as jumping, rolling like a log and forward rolls stimulates the receptors in the ear to help children know more about where they are in space as well as develop balance reactions which they need to ride a bike or stand on one foot to change clothes etc.
- When a child moves, the brain sends information to the muscles and joints to get them ready for action, like when a child goes down a slide. Therefore, movement is essential for the development of a little one’s postural system.
- Regular movement also stimulates the language center of the brain and therefore helps with the development of speech and language skills. That’s why it is important to combine movement activities with songs or music.
- Body awareness (proprioception) movements such as jumping, crashing, climbing over or under obstacles, pulling, pushing helps children to form a map in their heads of how their body fits together. We all need this map to help us plan how to approach and execute new tasks.
The link between physical play and the classroom
- Physical activity develops coordination. In other words, gross motor skills such as jumping develop before fine motor skills such as cutting / hand writing. Tarryn explains that children first need to engage in physically active tasks that involve coordination of the arms and legs before parents and teachers can expect them to master certain skills in the classroom.
- Tarryn explains that a child first needs to move their own body through space, over and under obstacles, before they can learn how puzzle pieces fit together or how to space letters correctly on a line in our writing book. “Moving your body through space helps to develop your sense of direction, what is up and down; what is left versus right. This is important for the development of reading and writing skills,” she adds.
- An active child will also develop good muscle tone which helps them to sit upright at the table or on the carpets without slouching or moving around. “If a child tires easily because their muscles can’t keep them up against gravity this will have an impact on their concentration and fine motor skills,” says Tarryn.
- “Eye-hand coordination such as throwing and catching objects or kicking a ball is important for copying from the board and reading and writing. Coordination between the two sides of the body, such as when you BOUNCE on a trampoline, also improves communication between the two sides of the brain which is essential for learning to read,” she adds.
Why Bouncing is one of the best activities for children
Bouncing on a trampoline is one of the best activities for children. Why? Because it engages all the major muscle groups in one single movement, and stimulates the brain, as well as our cells and organs.
“One of the first things I ask parents when they come to see me is do you have a trampoline at home?” says Tarryn. She believes that bouncing is a wonderful activity for children because:
- It improves circulation and oxygen to the brain
- It reduces fatigue
- It’s low impact, which reduces the risk of injuries
- It aids in weight loss and weight management, without being too jarring on the body
- It supports a healthy immune system
- It aids in digestion, thanks to its detoxifying effects on the lymphatic system
- It reduces the risk of anxiety and depression, while promoting healthy sleep patterns
- It improves concentration and mood thanks to the release of feel-good endorphins.
For those who don’t have a trampoline at home, BOUNCE is the ideal place for kids to feel free to BOUNCE and play in a safe, secure environment.
And the best part is, BOUNCE encourages parents and caregivers to jump too, because jumping on a trampoline has the same physical benefits for adults, and it’s one of the only muscle-strengthening and cardio-based activities in one.
This means that moms can get in a good workout too! Also, bouncing together encourages bonding and good old’ fashioned quality time between parents and their kids. It’s so much fun, you can’t help but smile when you BOUNCE!
why bounce is the best trampoline park for kids
With four locations across South Africa and multiple venues across the globe, BOUNCE is a fabulous indoor trampoline park that promotes fun and adventure in a healthy, safe environment. The BOUNCE team is committed to inspiring movement, creative expression and human connection where children of all ages can come and BOUNCE and have fun.
Each BOUNCE trampoline venue is an adrenalin playground comprising around 3000 square meters of interconnected indoor trampolines, adventure features, padding and airbags.
The benefits of visiting BOUNCE:
- It encourages a sense of belonging
- It helps children build confidence by challenging themselves
- They learn valuable skills and body awareness which comes in handy at school and with other sports
- It boosts fitness levels in a fun, non-threatening way
- It helps to develop fundamental movement skills
- It offers the freedom to have fun and play!
- It helps children feel happy- exercise offers a natural endorphin high
- It helps to build neural pathways and help children think.
Now, BOUNCE is proud to introduce Bounce Play Dates for little ones!
What is it?
Unlimited jump time for Junior Jumpers (children under 125cm in height) anytime between 9am-12pm, Tuesdays-Thursdays, during the public-school terms. Children will have access to trampolines as well as a brand-new, fully equipped soft play area designed to engage all the senses.
R145 per ticket with the parent/guardian able to jump too. this also allows a flexible check-in time where you don’t have to book on the hour. The ticket does exclude official BOUNCE grip socks which you can purchase at check-in for R30.00
Book your spot online at www.bounceinc.co.za or call 011 517 2500 for more information.