3 Reasons Why Kids Need Exercise to Live Happy & Healthy

Exercise brings many benefits to people of all ages. Regular physical activity can help children maintain a healthy weight and avoid chronic diseases such as diabetes. Furthermore, regular exercise during childhood can help kids develop a habit for physical activities that they can carry throughout their lifetime.
Why make the effort to get your kids to pursue a sport or undertake physical activities? Studies have shown that exercise brings some important benefits that go well beyond improved strength and endurance. The research proves that exercise improves self-esteem and lowers the likelihood of developing mental health or mood problems. A study in a journal called Pediatrics showed that regular exercise improves mental performance and attention in school, while a related study in the Pediatrics Journal of American Medicine Association linked physical activity to an improvement of depression symptoms for children.

So exercise brings benefits, but how can you get your kids to do it? It can often be challenging to get kids to exercise. You can find lots of parenting tips about how to increase your kids’ level of physical activity, but these ideas may not work for everyone. Exercise can be a very personal undertaking, even for younger children. They may really embrace some forms of aerobic activity or become involved in a certain sport, but they may dislike other exercise routines or athletic endeavors.

Here are some important reasons why you need to get your children to exercise and more details about how to create a routine of physical activities that will put them on the path to a lifetime of mental and physical health.

1. Psychological Well-Being

  • Exercise counteracts symptoms of anxiety and depression. Studies have shown that exercise releases chemicals such as serotonin in your body. These are the biological substances that are found lacking in people with depression and anxiety issues.  
  • Exercise builds self-esteem. Kids who exercise are more comfortable with themselves in general, and increased physical strength and endurance can help them feel more confident and capable in any situation.
  • Exercise promotes happiness. Exercise can promote happiness on several levels. First, the release of serotonin and other “happy” biological chemicals can help elevate mood. Secondly, increased self-esteem can enhance happiness. And third, if you make exercise a time to interact with other children or family members, your children will feel more socially-connected as well as being more physically fit.

2. Promoting Physical Development

  • Exercise enhances cardiovascular health. Cardiovascular health is important for preventing chronic problems such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and other blood, immune-system and fatigue-related illnesses. Aerobic activity, along with diet, is the best way to improve protection against chronic, heart-related illnesses.
  • Exercise helps children in maintaining a healthy weight. Childhood obesity can lead to significant health problems both during childhood and later in life. Exercise, along with a proper diet, is the easiest way to maintain a healthy weight.
  • Exercise develops muscles, bones, motor skills, balance and posture. Exercise is the best way to ensure that a child undergoes proper physical development as their bodies grow. This development could include bone and muscle strength, proper posture, steady balance, and gradually-improving motor skills and coordination.

3. Better in the Classroom

  • Exercise improves concentration. Studies have shown that regular exercise brings the same level of calmness and focus as certain tranquilizers and drugs used to treat anxiety and ADHD. In pediatric subjects, these studies have linked exercise to improved classroom performance.
  • Exercise improves self-discipline. The self-discipline that children learn from creating and sticking with a fitness routine can carry over to school work, diet, and social life.
  • Exercise increases energy and alertness. Kids who are overweight and lack self-esteem also lack energy and suffer from increased feelings of tiredness. This can lead to poor performance in school and behavioral problems.  

How to Encourage Kids to Exercise

The key to getting your kids to exercise is to find something that they like to do and then encourage them to pursue it. Here are some ideas that may help regardless of your kids’ current level of physical fitness.
  • You have to lead by example. Your kids are going to look at you as an example in many aspects of life, including exercise. Younger children may even ask to join you as you exercise. You do not have to take them along on your jog or your gym trip, but you can have a separate exercise time when they “exercise” with you. On the other hand, if you have a sedentary lifestyle, your kids may adopt that lifestyle as well. At the very least, you can find physical activities that both you and the kids enjoy and do them together.
  • Limit screen time. Kids will want to play video games or play on tech devices. While taking this type of play away completely may cause resentment, you can limit these sedentary activities or use them as a reward for completed exercise routines.
  • Always be positive. If a child makes the effort to attempt regular exercise, encourage them along the way (even if their efforts are modest at first). Positive feedback will help them see exercise as a positive undertaking. If they miss an exercise session, you can help them decide how to plan the next exercise session instead of punishing them for missing one.
  • Make exercise social. Chances are that other parents in your neighborhood are trying to increase their kids’ level of aerobic exercise. Make sports or exercise a social event by giving your kids the chance to exercise with their peers.
  • Create a routine. Your ultimate goal is to make physical activity a part of your kids’ lives. This means making exercise a routine activity. You might schedule weekly sports games or play dates on some days and exercise with your kids on other days. As kids start to expect these exercise times, it will be easier to get them to exercise.  
There are multiple reasons for getting your kids to exercise. If you focus on making exercise a positive experience, your children can enjoy these benefits for their entire lifetime.