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Healthy lifestyles for children through exercise

The benefits of exercise for children

According to Tassoni, exercise is essential to develop a healthy heart. Children with not enough exercise can develop heart disease in later childhood or adulthood. Exercises also help the lungs to grow healthy and produce stamina.

When children take exercise, they usually feel tired when they go to bed and have a good sleep time and they also have more appetite and eat well at meals times.

Some exercise helps children develop stronger bones, such as running, walking, or weight-bearing movements.

The outdoor access requirements of current frameworks

“In the EYFS, there is a clear requirement for children to spend time each day outdoors as part of the Safeguarding and Welfare requirements. While there are no direct requirements for schools to ensure outdoor access.”

In EYFS, physical development is one of the three prime areas of learning and development, and prime areas are priorities when planning for children's play and learning.

In Key Stage 1, children are required to take regular exercises as part of Physical Education’s subject. At the end of key 1, children should have run, jumping throwing, and catching skills developed.

National and local children’s exercise initiatives

One in five children currently starting the reception year are overweight or by the end of primary education show some sign of heart disease, this is believed because children are not taking physical exercise enough.

“The best way to encourage children and young people to be physically active may differ according to their age, developmental stage, culture, and gender. For example, improving their physical skills and general ability to participate may make physical activity more enjoyable. It may also help increase their activity levels throughout childhood and into adulthood.”

Local authorities also deliver local initiatives for children and their families. According to Tassoni, children develop positive attitudes to exercise if their parents take regular exercise.

Current initiatives that promote exercises:

Change4Life believes to children and young people grow both need healthy diets and physical activity.

Start active, stay active, is a report by the Chief Medical Officers in the UK, is designed at the NHS and a range of other organisations to promote physical activity, sport and exercise for health benefits.

Live well, assistance to make the choices about your health and wellbeing.

“Sport England is a non-departmental public body under the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport. Its role is to build the foundations of a community sport system by working with national governing bodies of sport, and other funded partners, to grow the number of people doing sport; sustain participation levels; and help more talented people from all diverse backgrounds excel by identifying them early, nurturing them, and helping them move up to the elite level.”

Play England is for England to be a country where everybody can fully enjoy their right to play throughout their childhood and teenage years.

The benefit of working with parents/cares

“Parents and carers will know whether there are any medical conditions or disabilities that might affect children’s ability to join in any activities (…) Equally, early years settings can provide information to parents about the importance of exercise and individual children’s interests and skills levels.”

Early years can provide information about exercises displaying of information about how important is to exercise or they provide leaflets with this information.

The child’s key person can also talk with parents and carers to inform how is child’s development and say what they might be able to do with their child at home to help this improvement.


TASSONI, Penny. Early Years Educator – for the work-based learner – CACHE level 3.

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