Why is It Important to Be Physically Fit: Structured Physical Activity

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Topic: Safe, fit and healthy – Structured physical activity

Objective: To develop and strengthened this area of pedagogy in my Nursery by increasing the amount of structured physical activity within a week.

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Children deserve a good start in life which can lead into adulthood. According to June O’Sullivan “a good diet from an early age protects children from chronic diseases like diabetes, obesity and heart disease in adulthood”, which includes good physical activities. Research has also shown that inactive children are likely to become inactive adults. Margaret McMillan stated “fresh air, exercise and good nutrition would improve children’s health in a way that clinic could not”. She emphasised that, nurseries should have routines of standard meals, nap time and time for children to play and run. Fundamental to the achievement of these is the integration and application of safe, fit and healthy well embedded into our routine /activities in the setting.

The outcome of this research will support and facilitate the implementation of children in LEYF conservatoire getting the required nationally recommended 180 minutes daily physical exercise. Based on our current LPDS development plan,vis-a-vis the children’s interest, our goal is to come up with new and innovative ideas that reinforce emotional wellbeing and adequate exercise. This I intend to achieve by, increasing the amount of structured physical activity in a week with a couple of new ones such as yoga and dance led by the Nursery teachers in addition to the current one structured physical activity in the setting (football)

Maslow (1943, 1954), theory of needs suggests that some needs supersede others. Primary need is for physical survival and as soon as that level is accomplished, the next level up is what inspires us, and so on.

Mia Kellmer Pringle (1974) theory of children’s needs emphasised that, all needs are interrelated and interdependent and for a child to attain their full potential, all their social, physical, emotional and cultural needs must be met. Her four significant developmental needs which have to be met from birth are:

  • Love and security
  • Praise and recognition
  • Responsibility
  • New experience.

I strongly agree with ‘Maslows Triangle’ which suggest that these needs operate in a hierarchical sequence. It’s only when the basic needs of: physical and safety/health are met that a child can move up to higher important needs as failure to meet these needs can disrupt progress.

However, Mia kellmer Pringle’ theory shows that children’s need should be met using holistic approach.

The importance of this area of Pedagogy to children and families

An exploration of benefits of physical activities to children’s development is inexhaustible. Physical exercises may occur through unstructured active play but may also include more structured activities and can be of any strength which should be relevant to children’s age and development. Fundamental movement skills are the building blocks that will enable children in participating in sports/games that require more advanced movements during the school age years and beyond. The early years are a critical time for the development of these skills and they need to be learned, practised and reinforced through developmentally appropriate movement programmes.

Children benefits from organised physical because it imparts the social side of being in a team and getting involved with other children and trusted adults and also supports cognitive development. Social interaction plays a fundamental role in the process of cognitive development (Vygotsky). It enhances development of different social life skills such as: team work, selflessness qualitative interaction, possessing sense of belonging, developing friendship, ability to follow rules, sharing, turn taking, communicating, and empathizing. The exhilaration that comes with running, laughing, and playing also boost a child's mood. This leads to one of the most important reasons kids should involve in regular physical exercise: it's fun!

Physical Development: it supports building strong bones and muscles as well as strengthening hearts and lungs. Children improve their gross motor skills, including running, kicking, throwing, and swinging. It can greatly decrease children's risk of becoming obese and developing associated health problems, as well as promoting better sleep. These 180 minutes of exercise a day will improve children’s bone health, cardio respiratory fitness and their health in general. (WHO 2003)

Emotional: Physical exercise helps to stimulate chemicals in the brain that makes us feel better. It regularly improves children’s overall wellbeing. Participating in sport boosts children’s self esteem. A kind word from a familiar adult, cheering from peers and ability to achieve set task boosts their morale and make them feel fulfilled /better about themselves thus helping to develop a healthy self-image and positive self-esteem as they take pride in their physical accomplishments. Mia Kellmer-Pringle emphasised the need for praise/recognition which is great incentives sustained over time. Moreover, children learn to bounce back, cope with unpleasant experience which is very important of becoming resilient.

New skills/experience is crucial to chidren’s need. The primary joy of achievement/ability to perform new task is beyond measure.

Children derive enormous benefits from yoga. It enhances their flexibility, strength, coordination, body awareness and their concentration, sense of calmness and relaxation improves.


Family cohesiveness/secure attachment: When families are active together, they spend more time together and build stronger emotional bonds also experiencing health benefits. Thereby, fostering secure attachment which makes children feel confident, secured and trust the attachment to meet their needs, Mary Ainsworth,1970. Parents also model healthy lifestyle for children as behavior is learned from the environment through the process of observational learning, Albert Bandura (1977).


Harmonious relationship with children and their families such as encouraging to be physically active away from the setting and signposting them to activities in the local community:

  • Boost our level of self-confidence and enthusiasm.
  • Aids planning and developments
  • Outstanding rating for the Nursery
  • Fulfilling our goal as a social enterprise; meeting learning/developmental needs of the children one at a time and making more social impart.
  • Good and positive image of the nursery and will definitely be one of our USP (unique selling point)
  • Factors that may influence outcome
  • Low acceptance of new ideas due to fear of lack of skills – facilitation and support
  • Lack of resource – improvise/ Liaise with management for support

In conclusion, Physical activity has very minimal risks for most under fives. However, childhood inactivity can have grave consequences in later life including increased risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes and stroke. Developing active behaviours in the early years can assist the next generation to have healthier and even happier lives.

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