Engaging in regular physical activity is especially important for young children. It builds strength and develops healthy bodies and can even enhance academic performance. Regular physical activity also reduces the risk factors for obesity and diabetes and the development of common chronic diseases of adulthood, such as heart disease and certain cancers. Although children in 4th grade are not yet at direct risk of developing many of these diseases, it is important that they begin developing the healthy habits that can impact whether they will develop them later in life. By 4th grade some children, especially girls, may be experiencing the onset of puberty and their physical activity habits will need to keep pace with their rapidly changing bodies.
The benefits to your child of physical activity can include:
The US Department of Health and Human Services recommends that children aged 9 and 10 participate in at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day. This does not need to be 60 minutes of sustained activity at a time, but can include different episodes of activity that, together, total 60 minutes or more. Children should be engaged in a variety of activities that require different degrees of exertion. These should include vigorous activities, such as playing tag, and more moderate activities, such as brisk walking.
The guidelines recommend that children engage in vigorous physical activity at least three times a week.
Building muscle strength is especially important for children at this age and exercise is key to achieving this goal. Muscle-strengthening activities are those that force the muscles to do more than the normal workload. For young children, the most effective muscle-building activities include swinging from monkey bars and playing games such as tug-of-war. The guidelines recommend that children engage in muscle-strengthening activities at least three times a week.
Building bone strength is also important for growing children. Bone-strengthening exercises build strength through the force that is exerted on the bones. Exercises that achieve this important goal include running, skipping rope, and playing hopscotch. The guidelines recommend that children engage in bone-strengthening activities at least three times a week.
Follow these tips on how to advance your child's physical health and development in 4th grade.