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Importance of Physical Culture for Children

Children are introduced to physical culture from a very young age. From “Mommy & Me” infant movement classes, to youth recreational soccer leagues, to sibling rough-housing. Physical culture is key for healthy child growth. Children start to develop gross motor skills as early as four to five months old. Before kids learn to talk, they use physical gestures to communicate with others. They learn social cues and context first through body language and behavior. Children rely on bio-pedagogy teachings to understand how their body is an instrument for communication and activity. Even as children learn to communicate verbally, physical culture continues to guide how they interact with one another and the rest of society.

Child playing kickballSport is one method of teaching these crucial social skills. When part of a sports team, kids learn how to work together and rely on each other. Individually, they learn how to express themselves and their goals through the effort they apply to their physical activity.

Sport is one method of teaching these crucial social skills. When part of a sports team, kids learn how to work together and rely on each other. Individually, they learn how to express themselves and their goals through the effort they apply to their physical activity. Most importantly, children learn through sports that the physical cultural practices of society are contextually specific. Just as the skill set and etiquette required for golf are not the same as what is expected for football, different cultural settings require different physical behavior. The way children treat their peers in the classroom may not be how they treat their opponents on the soccer field. With physical culture as an aid, children can understand easier what behavior is appropriate in different social contexts.

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Physical Activity versus Exercise: How Much Do We Need?

We are often told that we need to exercise but are not told HOW to exercise. First off, let’s differentiate the difference between physical activity and exercise.  Physical activity is any bodily movement that occurs as a result of musculoskeletal contraction that ultimately increases energy expenditure.  This is a fancy way of saying that physical activity is an action that requires energy to perform. An exercise is a structured form of physical activity.  But let’s not get caught up in the jargon because both are one and the same and are important for our mental and physical health.  

Man in a wheelchair lifting a kettlebell weight above his headThe American Heart Association currently recommends that adults accumulate greater than or equal to 150 minutes of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week while children should get at least 60 minutes per day of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity weekly.

So, what exactly is moderate vs. vigorous activity? While everyone has different abilities, here are some different ideas to get those recommended “moderate” minutes as classified by the American Council on Exercise that can be adapted to functionality: chores that I push off until the weekend (washing windows, washing my car, cleaning the garage, sweeping/vacuuming), general carpentry, walking 3-5 mph,  mowing the lawn, slow room ball dancing with that special someone, fishing, sailing your boat, canoeing/kayaking (3-5 mph), gardening, leisure biking/stationary bike, leisure swimming (what you consider “easy”), table tennis, shooting hoops, non-competitive volleyball, and golfing!  

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