Its children’s mental health week which means it’s time to show our support and remind ourselves why it’s important for our children to connect with others and find space to move more in their day to support better mental health. Riding off the back of covid, a rise in sedentary lifestyle has shown its face affecting everyone but delivering more of a blow to the younger generation. The norm went from going to school, games in the playground, and messing around with friends to online learning, being stuck inside, and having to be completely isolated.
There has been a foreseen rise in mental health needs in children and lack of connection and exercise play a large role in it. This means its crucial, now more than ever, to understand how physical activity is a key factor to mental wellbeing. We all know the physical benefits of it; strengthening our muscles and bones, but do you know how much it relates to our mental health? Being active and moving your body wakes up the brain by stimulating it in ways that being static doesn’t. It enhances our wellbeing by increasing our mental alertness, energy, and positive mood. This results in an increase in self-esteem and a reduction in stress, anxiety and even depression. To put it simply: it is the blueprint to improving mental health.
Now you’re probably wondering how this relates specifically to children and young people’s mental health rather than in regards to everyone’s. Well, if there’s one thing being active can do better than improving mental health issues, it’s helping to prevent them.. As cliché as it sounds, children are our future, it is our responsibility to give them the best start in life. Introducing them to activity at a young age and framing this as play and recreation shows them that being active is a choice not a chore. With the rise of mental health needs it is so important to encourage healthy habits from a young age which reduce the impact of depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues by creating positive and lasting relationships with physical activity.
It can seem difficult to think of ways to encourage children to be active but there are actually very easy ways to do this.
Simple things such as:
- Pass the play park on your way home from school
- Scoot or walk to and from school with your friends
- Head to the skate park at the weekend
- Take a walk in the woods and build a den
- Join a club or group that includes movement – it doesn’t have to be a sports society or fitness club
- Playing games with friends at breaktime
We can take these small steps now, creating a space for movement in our children’s lives, providing them with a future that enables them to grow strong bones, healthy bodies, and resilient minds.