The script for your life is written when you are a child. In terms of physical activity, this means that we pick up lifelong habits and routines in our early childhood. A child has had enough physical activity when they have the energy to do things, eat well at mealtimes and fall into restful sleep after an active day. Not everyone has to like sports and exercise. Instead, we should all be physically active – in our own way. Physical activity is as important as sleep and healthy nutrition. All steps, physical effort and active games count. There is no one correct way to be physically active.
The lack of physical activity is not caused by children not engaging in instructed exercise – on the contrary, exercise hobbies are now more common than ever. The crux of the issue is that we have lost natural physical activity from our everyday life. Even children who exercise regularly are often not physically active enough, as for the most part, they spend their everyday life almost entirely stationary.
In accordance with the physical activity recommendations of the UKK Institute, children under the age of eight should be physically active for three hours every day. Many parents are wondering how this is possible in practice. Our images tend to be performance-centric: physical activity is something separate from everyday life that requires effort and time taken away from something else.
Physical activity should be looked at from a new perspective: if I spend 45 minutes now on outdoor activities on my way to and from the day care centre, I save effort elsewhere. The rest of the evening can be spent at home with a good conscience, and the benefits of outdoor activities can be seen in the evening in a calmer child.
You do not always need separate scheduling, equipment or transportation for physical activity. All steps, physical effort and active games count and are important. Your home, not to mention the yard of your residential building, are excellent environments for physical activity. Some journeys can be made on foot. Everyday physical activity is also supported by instructed exercise, which enables children to learn new skills and have enjoyable activities in a social and safe environment. However, it is not enough by itself. The most important thing is to make physical activity a daily routine that is connected to other everyday activities. That way, physical activity does not depend on a separate decision to make an effort to go outside.