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5 Ways Active Play Benefits Babies


It's clear--kids need to move. There's even a new syndrome called Exercise Deficit Disorder, and lots of American kids have it--in 2010 more than a third of kids and teens were overweight or obese. But being active doesn't just help children lose weight--though that is a definite bonus.

Here are some benefits from getting kids running, jumping, hopping, skipping, and generally running around like the little wild people they so naturally are.

1. It Boosts the Brain

Exercise helps kids perform better in school. One meta-study found that kids who were physically active (and good habits start young), had higher levels of achievement than less active kids. Researchers speculate this is because exercise increases the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain, which may lift hormones that reduce stress.

2. It Strengthens 'Dem Bones

Weight-bearing movement is not just for older ladies; kids should do it too. It helps with bone density and growth now--and will prevent things like osteoporosis and arthritis later in life.

3. It Helps them Be Good People

Shared active play activities teach kids about sharing, cooperation, and taking turns. It also allows them to feel a sense of belonging and community. Exercise as a family and the bonding benefits soar. 

4. It Grows Confidence

A fit, strong, coordinated, socially intelligent kid is often a confident one. Studies show that being physically active builds confidence and self-esteem that carries far into adult life. 

5. It Helps the Ticker

Heart health is more important than ever, in our culture of obesity and the aptly named S.A.D. (Standard American Diet). According to The American Heart Association, regular physical activity for kids can reduce blood pressure, raise the "good" cholesterol levels, and reduce the risk of diabetes and some cancers. 

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