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Promoting Lifelong Healthy Lifestyles and Enhancing Gross Motor Play


For healthy living, physical activities are inevitable, they are an essential component in healthcare management. It is important to note that healthcare management can be done at a personal level, in a group, or as a form of family initiative. Schooling children are usually given guidelines in their respective schools of how physical activities should be conducted. Studies have found out a definite, distinct relationship between physical activity and cognitive performance. Gross Motor Play refers to the manipulative skillful movement of the skeletal muscles. There exists inadequacy in information for the public on the best lifestyle practices that promote healthy living and the skills to be applied in enhancing gross motor play. This paper breaches this gap by examining solutions provided by five articles. In the first part, a historical view of the theme will be looked at through the articles published before 2009. Current trends will follow, information in the three articles published post-2009.

Historical view

The National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) came up with formulations to guide child play outside school (“Best-Practice Guidelines for Physical Activity at Child Care,” n.d.). Prior to 2002, the increase in the number of obese children was an alarm to the ministry of health in the US and healthcare professionals globally. The guidelines that were invented comprised of a 60 minute free play for children (without adult supervision) and an extra structured play guided by adults. A comprehensive proposal of the facts in the formulae is presented below as a solution to healthy living practice guide for children. Adults might also find this useful in guiding their children in performing an excellent play both indoors and outdoors. Officials in healthcare centers will find the information here helpful.

Provision of active opportunities for children.

Children are allowed to join their friends in the playground during the day with distant supervision that does not disrupt their involvement. Too close supervision might minimize the level of interaction of children with their friends. However, this should be a maximum of 60 minutes (“Physical activity in preschoolers: understanding prevalence and measurement issues. – PubMed – NCBI,” n.d.). This is the optimum time recommended by NASPE for children’s proper development of gross motor skills. Additionally, a single supervised session during the day should be initiated in addition to outside play.

Organization of the play environment is very important. There are two main types of children’s play environment: fixed and portable. Both environments should be spacious. This is crucial to ensure children participating in a variety of physical activities. It is necessary to mention that an exposure to a wide variety of physical activities during childhood is important in ensuring continued participation in adulthood. The outside environment should be grassy to avoid physical body harm during play. Additionally, a track for wheeled toys must be available, and the toys provided should be of many types. For children to participate in many physically challenging activities, provision of a variety of playing equipment is essential. Its absence encourages sedentary lifestyle and participation in inactive games. There are also two types of equipment: fixed and portable. Reproducibility of best physical activity in children is enhanced by the provision of portable equipment including balls and kites. Fixed playing equipment includes fixed climbing structures (Eric et al., 2011).

Limiting time spent in sedentary activities is important as a way of promoting healthy living. This does not only apply to children but the entire population at large. In childcare centers, for instance, researchers have found out that many children spent a great deal of time watching television, playing online games and participating in other sedentary activities. American Academy Pediatrics proposes a maximum of 2 hours of television use a day. There is a positive correlation between sedentary activities with risks of overweight.

Guidelines that the extent to a wider scope is necessary as well. Consider a childcare center setting. Every individual needs to exercise hence the guidelines need to focus on developing training skills in the following groups; children, staff, and parents. As a way of motivation for children who demonstrate loyalty to the guidelines provided, a performance appraisal scheme should be developed. Extra playtime should be provided for those with a good adherence behavior. It serves as a challenge to children who misbehave as well as improving motor skills overall.

Current trends

It has been noted that physical activities are not only restricted to adults but should begin in infancy. The following are the benefits of regular exercises; increased lean body mass index, reduction of cholesterol and minimization of risks of cardiac diseases, improved mental alertness, increased self-esteem, and reduced depression among children and adolescents.

Current issues in promoting healthcare do not leave individuals with physical disabilities aside. Organizations such as Disabled Sports USA and American Physical Therapy have integrated opportunities that foster physical training for those with disabilities. The primary aim is to give every individual an equal chance of participation in physical activities.

Promoting physical activity in infants (birth to 1 year of age)

Immediately after birth, the child displays motor skills through involuntary reflexes. These develop with time and are enhanced as the child gains control over his/her body. The rate of skill acquisition among children differs, but the order remains the same. The setting should be one that guarantees safety and allows free play with no limitation on movement. An example is demonstrated in Appendix 1. To encourage active movements in infants, the following activities could be held: floor play,, feet lifting, inventing games such as pat-a-cake and many others. Close supervision is imperative for infants to minimize the risks of damage. It should be noted that children’s personality develops at this stage. If given more attention to television and computers, introversive personality is likely to set in since they develop a liking to staying on their own with minimal interaction.

1 to 4 years

Active play is the most crucial component at this stage. Children have gained full control of their body, they can engage in lots of activities. Active play is done in the open environment, outside. Involve children at this stage in walking, dancing, climbing and running. The whole idea is to make the play fun in order to encourage them to do the same on their own even in the absence of play guides. Normal bone development requires regular physical activity; it is the most critical stage for this. Children with special disabilities should be involved in modified activities that go in line with their needs. Depending on the diagnosis of their condition, parents should be advised on the most appropriate activities for their children. Enrolling them in Early Childhood Intervention Programs is an option. In childcare centers, for instance, particular attention is given to them with physical activities adjusted to meet their disabilities.

5 to 11 years

Fundamental skills are developed during age 5 to 6 years including hopping, jumping, kicking, among others. Competition is the key target at this stage; activities that aim to build these motor skills are focused on. Instituted activities do not require a complex set of instructions. From age 7 to 9, activities with slightly flexible rules are brought in. Though they require little education, they do not entirely need complex motor skills to be performed. Age 10 to 11 has been termed by many as a transitional complex stage. At this point, entry into complex motor skills is initiated. Consider basketball play for instance. Integration of mind and body movement comes in handy. Teamwork is highly encouraged here.

Combating obesity

In recent times, the millennial era, concerns have been raised globally on the need to handling the issue of obesity in all age groups. Obesity is correlated to sedentary lifestyles though researchers have shown a genetic relationship in some instances. Obesity in the first place is crucial in terms of the body mass index (Promoting physical activity, 2010). The table below summarizes this:

As shown above, body mass index (BMI) is calculated by dividing the total body weight by the square of individual’s height. Current studies show that physical activity alone is not enough to combating obesity. Increased physical activity leads to increased appetite for food (Eric et al., 2011). Such individuals are therefore tempted to eat more than they normally do, consequently increasing their total caloric intake. The impact of physical activity is hence overshadowed by their increased caloric intake. In addition to weight reduction by engaging in physical activities, regulation of food intake is recommended as well. These combined approaches reduce the BMI to a value below 30.0.

Fundamental movement skills

FMS are categorized into the following: locomotor skills including running, hopping and leaping, object-control which involve the use of objects and range from throwing, catching, kicking to striking, and stability skills (Cohen et al, 2014). Stability skills are also termed as static balance skills; this includes walking on a rope, standing on one foot, and other manipulative techniques to balance the body. Children that have a real mastery of FMS get themselves involved in more demanding physical activities, thereby promoting their health wellbeing. The reverse is true for those with low levels of competency in FMS; they tend to select less demanding physical activities hence do not exercise fully. Other factors that lead to low FMS competency include demographic parameters, socioeconomic factors, physical disabilities, and the nature of the environment of play. To cater for each factor, health provision should focus on designing programs that tackle each matter differently in order to provide every individual with the opportunities of developing their FMS competencies.


Play and good health are interrelated. Engagement in physical activities improves the physical well-being, cognitive development and helps in the management of stress. Though the historical view of the matter included solutions from an all-inclusive point, current studies focus on each development stage. Strategies to be employed in promoting healthy living practices in childhood are quite different from those applied during adulthood. Still among children, each stage has specific mechanisms to be employed; infancy, ages 1 to 4, ages 5 to 6, 6 to 10, and ages 10 to 11. Other trends handled presently include obesity and ability to develop gross motor play skills.


Best-Practice Guidelines for Physical Activity at Child Care. (n.d.). Retrieved from


Kristen E Cohen, Philip J Morgan, Ronald C Plotnikoff, Robin Callister and David R Lubans       International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 2014, 11:49. Retrieved from http://www.ijbnpa.org/content/pdf/1479-5868-11-49.pdf

Eric D., Neil K., James A. L. and Robert R.(2011). Update on Exercise and Weight Control;        Hindawi Publishing Corporation Journal of Obesity Volume 2011, Article ID 358205, 3      pages doi:10.1155/2011/358205

Physical activity in preschoolers: understanding prevalence and measurement issues. – PubMed –   NCBI. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18027993/

‘Promoting physical activity’ (2010). Retrieved from            http://brightfutures.aap.org/pdfs/Guidelines_PDF/1-BF-Introduction.pdf

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