New Users Registration  |  Useful Links  |  FAQ  |  Site Map 
 
Go Search

 

Skip Navigation LinksHealth Xchange > News
  News  
  Categories  
     
  Chronology  
 
  2013 2014   Dec 2014 | Nov 2014 | Oct 2014 | Sep 2014 | Aug 2014 | Jul 2014 | Jun 2014 | May 2014 | Apr 2014 | Mar 2014 | Feb 2014 | Jan 2014 |
  2013   Dec 2013 | Nov 2013 | Oct 2013 | Sep 2013 | Aug 2013 | Jul 2013 | Jun 2013 | May 2013 | Apr 2013 | Mar 2013 | Feb 2013 | Jan 2013 |
  2012   Dec 2012 | Nov 2012 | Oct 2012 | Sep 2012 | Aug 2012 | Jul 2012Jun 2012May 2012Apr 2012Mar 2012 | Feb 2012 | Jan 2012 |
  2011   Dec 2011Nov 2011Oct 2011 | Sep 2011 | Aug 2011Jul 2011Jun 2011 | May 2011 | Apr 2011 | Mar 2011 | Feb 2011 | Jan 2011 |
  2010   Dec 2010 | Nov 2010 | Oct 2010 | Sep 2010 | Aug 2010 | Jul 2010 | Jun 2010 | May 2010 | Apr 2010 | Mar 2010 | Feb 2010 | Jan 2010 |
  2009   Dec 2009 | Nov 2009 | Oct 2009 | Sep 2009 | Aug 2009 |
 
     
  Topic  
 
  Health Policy and Announcements | Diseases and Outbreaks
  Medical Research | New Treatments and Technology
   
 
     
  RSS  
 
  Singapore   SingHealth | Health Promotion Board | Ministry of Health | Asiaone
  International   World Health Organization | Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (US)
       
 
     
  News Article  
 

Play to grow

 
  Sunday, 01 l 05 l 2011  Source:  The Sunday Times   
By: Chia Hui Jun
     
 

Twenty minutes of unstructured activity daily can help children develop physically and mentally

play-to-growParents should get their toddlers to run around the playground, play “catch” or ride a tricycle once the children reach three years old to help them develop physically, mentally and socially. Exercise experts recommend such unstructured activities for those who are between one and five years old for 20 to 60 minutes daily under adult supervision. The World Health Organization recommends at least 60 minutes of physical activity daily for children aged 12 and younger.

Dr Ong Wee Sian, who heads the sports medicine service at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital, says pre-schoolers can swim, dance or do gymnastics, with minimal rules and more visual demonstration than verbal instructions. These activities develop cardiovascular endurance so oxygen is better delivered to the muscles, helping to develop the heart, lungs and bones, says Dr Tan Swee Kheng, a kinesiologist who runs her own sports coaching company. They also maintain the child’s body weight and control his body fat. The experts add that when children experiment with movements, they develop fundamental movement skills and build stamina, speed and flexibility.

Exercise also benefits children mentally by developing the executive function of the brain for academic learning, says Dr Tan. Without rules, children make up their own games, hence building their decision-making, creativity and leadership skills. When children reach six to nine years, they can try sports such as soccer, racquet games and skating, as most have developed fundamental movement skills and are starting to use these skills in a more controlled way.

It is good for them to be exposed to a range of sports from endurance activities such as calisthenics to cardiovascular ones such as running, says Dr Roger Tian, associate consultant at Changi General Hospital’s Changi Sports Medicine Centre. This helps them develop different skills and fitness so that they can later pursue a sport that they have potential in. When they are 10 years old, they can try more complex team sports with an emphasis on strategies and tactics, says Dr Ong. They can also start resistance exercise using light free weights. Resistance training develops muscular strength, which improves bone mass density and reduces the risk of fractures, he adds. The regimen’s intensity depends on the child’s physical maturation, skill level, interest and learning ability.

The American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness recommends limiting a sporting activity to five days a week, with at least one day off from any organised physical activity. Kiranraj Suresh, 11, picked up competitive running two years ago. He trains two to three times a week in school or with his personal trainer. His mother, Ms Senthamarai Govindaraju, feels that exercise has helped him develop movement skills, grow taller, improve his immune system and expend his energy. 

PLAY IT SAFE

Children are more vulnerable than adults to sports injuries. Dr Roger Tian, associate consultant at Changi General Hospital’s Changi Sports Medicine Centre, says: “The child is not a ‘mini-adult’.” “Weak links” in the developing musculoskeletal system predispose the child to injuries, he explains. Also, children are more prone than adults to heat exhaustion and heat stroke as their sweating mechanism is immature and they take longer to adapt to hot environments, he adds.

They also generate more heat than adults when exercising, due to less economical movement patterns. Children under 12 often cannot recognise dangerous situations, and may expose themselves to unnecessary risk during sports such as roller-blading without protective gear.

Doctors advise children to avoid exercising between 10.30am and 3.30pm when it is hotter, and to take regular hydration breaks in the shade during exercise. They should also have proper warm-up and cool-down exercises, adequate rest, learn proper techniques from qualified coaches with experience in training children and use protective gear, clothes and shoes.

     
  Ask the Specialists - Free Doctor Q&A
(Now - 15th Nov)
 
    Women's Pain
If you have question on pain management as it relates to a woman’s health, take this opportunity to ask our expert.
 
    Answered Q&As
Check out our archive for all our previous doctor's Q&As!
*Latest Update: Stress and Anxiety
 
e-Appointment Online
Health Buddy App