WORDS BY ERICA NEWTON, MYFIRSTGYM CO-FOUNDER
Wellbeing is big business. From chia seeds, kale and kombucha, to digital detoxes and facial yoga (it’s a thing!), the pursuit of wellbeing has infiltrated our lives, our screens and our wallets. For our kids, it’s a little less in your face (or neck savasana), and you’ll find few little darlings rushing to the tuckshop for a spinach and turmeric smoothie first thing at break time. However, most schools now have administrative positions dedicated to wellbeing, and there’s even an entire branch of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare committed to it.
So, what is wellbeing?
Is it eating chia puddings? Subscribing to meditation apps? Bee venom therapy? Thankfully, wellbeing is not reliant on expensive, hard to get food items or seven different ‘health’ apps on your phone you never use.
Quite simply, wellbeing is the state of being comfortable, healthy or happy. Sounds ridiculously easy, doesn’t it?
Yet in Australia, 1 child in every 7 suffers from a mental health issue, including ADHD, anxiety and depression. Australian children are amongst the fattest in the world: 25% of our kids are overweight or obese.Only 26% of five to 12-year-olds engage in the recommended amount of daily physical activity. And it’s worse in the 13 to 17-year-old bracket: only 7.9% do 60 minutes of exercise or more a day. Clearly, there’s more to this wellbeing thing than chia seeds and meditation.
The link between exercise and wellbeing.
Having access to healthy food, feeling safe and loved are all essential to our children’s wellbeing, but the role of exercise and physical activity cannot be overlooked. Apart from flooding our bodies with those good-feeling chemicals of serotonin and dopamine, exercise boosts our wellbeing through helping our children with:
Huffy puffy exercise helps reset both the body and brain from anger, frustration and stress, to calm and clarity. Exercise provides an opportunity for children to burn off those awful feelings.
- Social skills and making friends.
Team sports are fantastic for social skills, helping kids understand fair play, sportsmanship, negotiation and problem-solving. Training and playing a match give kids the opportunity to make friends too, another factor in positive mental health.
Movement increases our level of alertness and overall energy levels. Teachers don’t call them ‘brain breaks’ for nothing! Physical activity actually enhances our children’s ability to concentrate and focus in the classroom.
- Build self-esteem.
Success is the building block of positive self-esteem. Some kids simply flourish on the sporting field, but all children need the opportunity to feel good about their bodies and their achievements. At MyFirstGym’s, celebrating every win is important: for some kids, that’s as simple as making it to their 25th class!
- Feel good.
The endorphins released during exercise help with depression and anxiety. All that huffy puffy might be hard at the time, but the feel-good feelings afterwards are always an amazing reward.
- Physical development.
Exercise helps develop healthy bones, muscles and joints, heart and lungs. It improves our kids’ coordination, strength and muscle control, and helps in maintaining a healthy weight.
Perhaps the BIGGEST link in the wellbeing chain is having self-confidence and good self-esteem: two things exercise undoubtedly skyrockets. Exercise helps improve body image, physical skills, gives accessible and measurable goals and most of all makes our kids feel better about themselves.
Struggling to get your children to exercise?
It’s true that it doesn’t really matter what your kids are doing; as long as they’re moving, it will benefit their wellbeing. Tell that to any moody pre-teen as you send them off on a 4km jog, and you (and they!) will probably disagree. But what if there was a place that was affordable, easy to navigate, had plenty of diverse classes and encouraged socialisation?
Best of all, what if your child absolutely loved going to their very own gym, one full of coaches who inspired movement and loved encouraging kids and watching their skills develop and confidence soar? Wouldn’t you go?
Stop looking! MyFirstGym has got your back. Have a look here for your closest MyFirstGym and boost your child’s wellbeing today. And they don’t even have to eat kale.