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Physical activity enhances cognitive function improving memory, behaviour, concentration and academic achievement.
On the other hand inactivity negatively impacts brain health and executive control including:

  • maintaining focus
  • working memory
  • multi-tasking.

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Benefits of being active for young children include:

  • promoting healthy growth and development
  • helping to achieve and maintain a healthy weight
  • building strong bones and muscles
  • improving cardiovascular fitness
  • improving balance, coordination and strength
  • maintaining and developing flexibility
  • improving posture
  • assisting with the development of gross motor and fine motor skills
  • providing the opportunity to develop fundamental movement skills
  • helping to establish connections between different parts of the brain
  • improving concentration and thinking skills
  • improving confidence and self-esteem
  • relieving stress and promoting relaxation
  • providing opportunities to develop social skills and make friends
  • improving sleep.

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Only 19% of Australians aged 5-17 years meet the recommended Australian physical activity guidelines of accumulating at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day of the week.

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The Importance of Physical Activity for Children with Special Needs

“Being physically active can help instil a sense of self-confidence and improve skills in relationship building and working as part of a team. And it can help in weight management, a common problem among today’s kids.” (http://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=160&contentid=20).

It is imperative for a child with special needs to remain active as there many mental and physical benefits (listed below) regular physical activity and exercise has on a child with special needs.

Physical Benefits

  • Weight management
  • Healthier bone density
  • Reduced risk for diseases such as diabetes
  • Reduced risk for some type of cancers
  • Improved heart health
  • Improved strength and physical stamina
  • Improved hand-eye coordination
  • Improved reaction skills

Mental Benefits

  • Improved emotional and psychological health
  • Improved social skills
  • Improved motor skills
  • Improved self-esteem
  • Improved cognitive skills
  • Improved listening skills
  • Improved problem-solving skills