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The final area of our ‘Taking Play Seriously’ quadrant model speaks purely to the physical benefits children of all abilities should be able to receive from play.
Physical development ensures that children and their bodies are as healthy as they should be. Improving physical activity will also always loop back into improving mental wellbeing. The fact that physical activity helps improve one’s mental health too is just one of the many benefits we will dive into through this quadrant. Children’s minds and bodies will be supported, strengthened, balanced, and boosted through play.
It’s recommended that children get about 60 minutes of physical activity a day. This recommendation was put in place to stimulate development, improve fitness, strengthen muscles and ones all reducing the risk of modern lifestyle diseases like heart conditions and type 2 diabetes.
Beyond this, active kids are also found to be more mentally adept, confident, less stressed, anxious, and depressed, and able to better regulate their own emotions.
A study conducted by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare found that only 23% of children between the ages of 5 and 14 were actually meeting these daily requirements.
Ensuring children have plenty of opportunities to actively play in their formative years is becoming increasingly important as society becomes more and more inundated with technological advancements and distracting devices that often foster a more sedative lifestyle.
Along with technology our consumer culture is also flooded with fast and unhealthy processed foods. The importance of maintaining physical activity in children is crucial in ensuring they have the opportunity to develop into healthy, happy, long-living adults and create healthier generations to come.
Showing your children the importance of regular physical activity will help set them up for life. They will not only grow up physically healthier but grow up understanding the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle.
Keeping kids active gives them the chance to develop to their full potential. On the playground, children can swing across monkey bars and build their upper body strength. They can climb across ropes and up ladders to keep their joints strong and healthy. All while getting a full-body cardio workout and releasing endorphins.
The simplest way to see the physical importance of play for children is to look at it as exercise. The only difference being it doesn’t feel like exercise, it feels like fun and games and imagination. Everyone knows the benefits of regular exercise on the mind, body, and life. Through play, children can get in their regular physical exercise while simultaneously strengthening their social skills, imagination, cognitive development while having fun with their friends!
Many parents were lucky enough to know a childhood were playing outdoors and at your local playground was the only option. On the other hand children, these days don’t really know a world without the internet and technology. Many parents worry about the increasing time spent on devices and in front of screens and the effects it will have on their children.
As a parent, your child’s health is of utmost importance to you. Before they are old enough to look after themselves as a parent it is your duty to encourage and enable them to engage in physical activity as often as possible.
When statistics show that our children are leading more sedentary lifestyles, schools become the perfect place to implement more physical activity.
Between benefiting their physical health and mental wellbeing, getting kids up and out of their seats at school can also help improve their academic performance.
Of course, this looks different for every individual child. However, studies have shown that students who break up prolonged periods of seating with physical activity returned to the classroom with increased concentration.
Physical activity increases the flow of oxygen to the brain. This stimulates neurotransmitters in the brain that create new neurons and pathways. All of which help children in the classroom by helping them retain and remember more information.
The feel-good chemicals released in the brain when exercising also help children in the classroom. Endorphins are linked with reducing stress, boosting self-esteem, and improving and regulating overall mood. All of which will help children be more receptive to classroom learning.
Using play to encourage physical activity is a great way to break the cycle of lifestyle diseases and other common mental and physical problems that arise from a sedentary, unhealthy lifestyle.
This is something that affects communities as a whole. Together we can change the statistics surrounding the physical health and wellbeing of young Australians. Local councils and communities can lead by example and help encourage younger generations, showing them the importance of having access to playgrounds and play equipment in your local community.
When we build our equipment and design our playgrounds we go beyond what simply looks good and focus more on what works.
We strive to deliver a diverse range of play. This means offering equipment that serves the upper body, lower body, core strength, and gross motor skills. We balance these through the use of climbing, swinging, play panels of increasing difficulty, and more.
One way in which we ensure children are more active and healthy through our play equipment is the length of our components. Our components are unique in that they are longer than usual. This is because longer monkey bars require more effort and thus more physical activity. This seems like such a simple concept, however, it is often overlooked.
If the equipment isn’t made to realistically meet the needs of their user groups then they will not be able to properly play. For example, if a client requests a playground for an older user group of children the equipment and design will need to be tailored to fit their average height and ability. Failing to do so means the children will not receive any of the proper physical benefits from the equipment they can barely interact and engage with if it does not match their needs.
With a wide range of play equipment that covers multiple levels of difficulty, we’re able to create diverse playgrounds. This allows us to create unique and enriching challenges and opportunities that strengthen children no matter their age or abilities.