The Benefits of Children’s Exercise

The Benefits of Children’s Exercise


Simply put, daily exercise is the single best thing you can do for your body. It has positive impacts on your muscles, bones, and organs, as well as boosting your appearance, mood, and even mental health and cognition. In fact, many of the problems we associate with old age: weakness, loss of balance, and memory loss, aren’t due to age at all. They are due to a sedentary lifestyle and lack of exercise.

It is recommended for children ages 4-17 to be active for 60 minutes or more every day. This may sound like a lot, but don’t worry! Your child may already be meeting the recommended physical activity levels – or very close to it! Currently at Ignite School, students in Elementary and Middle School grades have two 50-minute Physical Education classes every week. Kindergarten students have class once a week for 50 minutes. (Kindergarten students have additional play and recess time to exert their energy.) Ignite School, located in Al Warqa’a Dubai, follows the American Curriculum which includes Physical Education. With those class times being utilized for teaching and practicing many different activities and exercises, we need to discover all the easy and enjoyable ways to help our families meet the full recommended time each week.

So many students are involved in activities outside of school. This is wonderful and highly encouraged! But what about those students who aren’t interested in organized team sports? Well, it is still important for them to find something physically active that they like to do.

Types of Activities:

Aerobic Activity – Most of your child’s daily 60 minutes of physical activity should be aerobic activities, like walking, running, or anything that makes their hearts beat faster. In addition, encourage them to do aerobic activities at least 3 days a week that make them breathe fast and their hearts pound.

Muscle-Strengthening – Include muscle-strengthening activities, such as climbing or doing push-ups, at least 3 days per week as part of your child’s daily 60 minutes or more.

Bone-Strengthening – Include bone-strengthening activities, such as jumping or running, at least 3 days per week as part of your child’s daily 60 minutes or more.


All these activities are great, but you need to find what works for your family.

HINT: MAKE A PLAN Pick out an activity to do as a family and put in your calendar like any other scheduled activity. Plan the location, starting time, activity and duration of the activity together. This will help create routines and you can also plan ahead. Some children (and adults) thrive when they know what to expect in their schedule each day – exercise should be a part of that!


●       Adopt a physical activity you love. If you can’t think of something you love, take classes until you find it; there are healthy physical activities for people of every age and fitness level. Activities that combine a range of physical movement with enjoyable social interactions and learning opportunities are the easiest to stick with and make the greatest impact on your overall health. Some good examples are:

○       Dancing: whether it’s ballroom, hip-hop, or line dancing, dancing to music you love with people you like is enjoyable and doesn’t feel like a workout.

○       Games: not just team sports like a casual game of basketball, but a game of tennis or pickleball, golf or disc golf, are all great ways to build friendships while getting fit. Furthermore, games provide an extra mental challenge that gives the brain a boost.

○       Explore: getting outdoors, whether it’s for a walk around the block, a hike, a bike ride, or skiing are all great activities, and better for you in real life than when done on treadmills or stationary bikes in a gym. Get curious about your surroundings and get to know them.

●       Track your fitness. Using a fitness tracker not only helps you recognize your progress and improve your results, but the ability to participate in teams, compete with friends, and share results is a powerful motivator to stick with your plan.

●       Use an app. Like everything else, there’s an app for that. Apps like Pact, HealthyWage, and Wellcoin help you define goals, track your progress, and even earn rewards for your progress. If the idea of putting a little cash into the game appeals to you, or provides extra incentive, look up the app that’s right for you.

●       Choose your entertainment. As we look for healthy ways to motivate and reward ourselves, some people have found a clever solution. These people found page-turning audio books and only allowed themselves to listen while they worked out. The results? Study participants went to the gym 51% more frequently. Try bundling your favorite audiobook, podcast, or even TV show with your workout routine and see if it works for you.

In Physical Education classes at Ignite School, we are working on the skills and routines that will set us up for a successful and active lifestyle.

We use a simple routine each class period.

Creating a routine allows us to mentally check off the list of tasks in our heads during the class period. This is an example

of a typical class schedule and is projected on the screen in the gym.

Students are really getting into the fitness portion of our schedule! They have learned many activities that they can do outside of school.


Hopping on one foot works on balance and coordination. It also gets your heart rate up! You can also skip, hop with two feet, gallop and walk backwards!


Want an individual activity that you don’t need any equipment for? Do some Jumping Jacks to have a great cardio workout!


When performing the High Knees fitness exercise, place your hands at the level of your belly button – it helps tell you how high up your knees need to be going!


Strengthening your core, or abdominal muscles specifically, can help keep your back feeling strong and pain free! Challenge yourself to do 30 crunches every night before you go to sleep!


Although this seems relaxing, stretching is so important! Keeping your body flexible is beneficial at any age. Take time during your favorite TV show to stretch a little bit!

Kerry O’Brien, An American Educator in Dubai

Ignite Students' Sports Day preparations

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