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Active Play: Let's Get Moving

 

“Let’s Move” is Michelle Obama’s recently announced program aimed at raising a healthier generation of kids. At the core of this initiative is the goal of getting kids more involved in vigorous physical play. The website, www.letsmove.gov, offers ideas for helping add physical activity into your family life and outlines a new Presidential Active Lifestyle Award that children can earn.

A great way to start young children on the path to an active lifestyle is to enroll them in a gymnastics class. One of the taglines in the Let’s Move mission is “Kids were meant to move.” Kids are meant to move, but being confident in physical activity does not come easily to every child. Gymnastics classes teach basic movement skills that give kids confidence to play on the playground. Playing actively helps children develop physical and mental skills, as well as, have fun with their peers. Current research finds that play is essential to children’s cognitive, social and physical development.

A recent in-depth report “Play Matters, A Study of Best Practices” was done by KaBOOM!, a respected national organization dedicated to creating play spaces to meet the needs of all children for physical activity. This report draws research from a broad range of experts and presents studies showing positive outcomes in school performance and behavior when increased time is allotted for recess and when opportunities for play are integrated into schools and communities. 
 

Interestingly, a hundred years ago there was a broad movement to introduce more playgrounds and physical activity into children’s lives. At that time many children had been pulled into working in mills and factories without opportunities for free play outside. In the early 1900’s, President Theodore Roosevelt wrote: “Through the whole of life, from childhood to old age, there should be opportunities for the practice of those forms of recreation which renew life, and which make for the joy of living.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics encourages active play as an excellent tool in combating childhood obesity. Starting young children in movement activities lets them develop confidence in their motor skills and a habit of including physical activity in their daily lives. Kids are meant to move and giving young children a variety of opportunities to have fun moving allows them to develop confidence and skills. It also builds healthy habits integrating vigorous activity into their life.