Can a Healthier Lifestyle Promote Good Character in Kids?

by SPARK


character

The early years make up an important developmental phase in any person’s life. Up to the age of 18, we’re constantly learning new habits, information, and behaviors – while establishing foundations that will shape our experiences as an adult. In short, childhood represents both opportunity and vulnerability when it comes to promoting a healthier lifestyle.

For a child to thrive, they need support and stimulation both at home, and in school. Because a healthy lifestyle demands physical activity, child care programs and schools that reduce recess and physical education for children could be damaging their development – stunting their emotional and physical growth. Studies have already begun to prove the link between exercise and intelligence, cognition, character development and emotional stability, showing that play is a huge part of the early developmental phase.

Physical Activity Promotes Healthier Characteristics

According to the U.S. Department of Health, children should get no less than one hour of physical activity a day in order to fight back against skyrocketing public issues like heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. However, physical benefits are not the only reason behind a child’s need for regular exercise. Numerous studies continue to show a positive correlation between the physical activity level of children, and his or her mental development. Active play gives children an opportunity to explore creativity, while developing their minds, and emotional as well as physical strength.

When children have the chance to participate in organized sports or physical education classes, the basic values they learned during the earliest developmental periods become further emphasized including the values of sharing, working together, and respect. Through participation in physical education, young people learn key values to carry with them throughout their lives, such as:

  • Adherence to rules
  • Respect for themselves and others
  • How to engage in fair play
  • Working as a team
  • Honesty

Physical education also provides a platform that allows young people to learn how to manage competition and cope with winning or losing.

A Healthy Lifestyle Links with Academics

Aside from the social skills that children learn through physical activity, regular exercise benefits a child’s brain in a number of ways, from improved memory to enhanced levels of concentration. Regular activity stimulates the development of new neurons, allowing brain cells to grow which permit better focus and cognitive performance. As a result, children who are in better shape physically also have better academic results than those who do not exercise. At the same time, exercise promotes better sleep, which is another aspect responsible for boosting the formation of the brain.

According to the Delaware Department of Education, students who are more physically fit perform well and behave better during school classes – regardless of their family income, race, gender, or school district. What’s more, research from the University of Illinois revealed the physical activity improves white matter integrity, a factor that links with “superior cognitive performance,” and better communication between different regions of the brain.

Healthier Lifestyles Make Happier Children

Finally, regular physical activity also has a positive impact on the mental health of a child. Numerous studies have shown undeniable relationships between the frequency of a child’s physical activity levels, and their mental health in association with emotional distress, anxiety, depression, and self-esteem. The same phenomenon applies no matter your age – people who have had particularly stressful days often blow off steam after work with an afternoon run.

The reason for this is that physical activity promotes the delivery of endorphins to the brain, elevating the mood. At the same time, getting rid of excess stress with physical activity can help to refresh a child’s system, improving their motivation in class and enhancing their ability to focus on other tasks. Because they have already had an outlet for their stress, children exposed to regular exercise are also less likely to get involved with negative behavior inside and outside of school.

In other words, as a result of physical activity, children are likely to perform better in school, establish friendships, be more mentally healthy, and learn social lessons – all factors important for the future.

Children Need to Move to Develop


In conclusion, physical activity plays a crucial rule in the general development of a child, from establishing motor skills, to ensuring psychological well being, emotional maturity, and cognitive focus. Children who are inactive are more likely to suffer from health problems, and could even be exposed to physical, psychological, and social issues that impact the rest of their lives.

A greater focus on physical education could ensure that children consistently engage in enough physical activity to support brain health, a better lifestyle, and good character.

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