There are a large number of benefits associated with physical activity for both children and adults, and general advice by doctors, health coaches and researchers is to help kids become active from a very young age.
A new study, published in the journal Pediatrics, reinforces this. Conducted at McMaster University in Canada, the study has found that toddlers’ physical activity improves cardiovascular fitness and blood vessel health, reducing risk of heart disease in the future.
400 children, 3-5 years old, were part of the study, which was conducted over a period of three years, during which researchers analysed kids’ cardiovascular fitness, arterial stiffness and blood pressure.
The lead author of the study, Nicole Proudfoot, said that arteries begin to stiffen from a very young age and that it was “important to start any kind of preventative measures early.”
To reduce the risk of heart disease in the future, you can help your child become more physically active now. Here’s how:
• Make it an integral part of your child’s daily schedule.
• Choose simple, age-appropriate activities for your kid.
• Give active toys such as balls and ropes.
• Reduce the time spent playing video games or watching television.
• Be a role-model and start exercising yourself.
• Plan family events involving a fun, physical activity.
• Find recreational spots with indoor and outdoor play areas.
• Ask your toddler to help out with very simple tasks at home.
• Introduce a new game or sport, every other week or month, to break the monotony.
Apart from cardiovascular health, exercising regularly will also help your child build strong muscles and bones, maintain a healthy weight, improve confidence levels and self-esteem, and prevent a range of other health issues.