Why children of all ages – even babies – need exercise

As parents, it’s important to ensure that your children are getting enough physical activity, and that includes kids under the age of five.

 It’s important that all children – even babies – are physically active.

While we all know that being active is important for children, did you know that new research suggests that even babies need daily exercise?

In a campaign against obesity, the British Health Department issued guidelines saying that children under the age of five – including babies who can’t even walk yet – should exercise every day. Officials also said parents should reduce the amount of time kids spend being sedentary while watching television or being strapped in a stroller.

Kids under the age of five

For babies who can’t walk yet, the Department said physical activity should be encouraged from birth, including infants playing on their stomachs or having swimming sessions with their parents. It said floor-based play encourages infants to use their muscles and helps bone development.

The Department also said children’s individual physical and mental abilities should be considered when interpreting the advice.

Physically active pastimes

“It’s vital that parents introduce children to fun and physically active pastimes to help prevent them becoming obese children, who are likely to become obese adults at risk of heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers,” Maura Gillespie, head of policy and advocacy at the British Heart Foundation, said in a statement.

Nearly a quarter of British adults are obese, and experts estimate that by 2050 about 90 percent of adults will be heavy. South Africa is not far behind, with a whopping 31% of men,  68% of women, and 13% of South African children obese.

One hour exercise a day

For children aged five to 18, Britain recommends at least one hour of exercise, but that should include intensive activities to strengthen muscles and bones.