I remember looking at my father’s Biology textbook and being spellbound by the pictures of human anatomy. The most amazing part was the way the transparencies would layer each other showing first the skeletal structure, then the muscles and ligaments, the circulatory system, the organs, and finally the skin covering the human form. Each page was fascinating and complex, and when I finally was in 10th grade and learned about the systems of our bodies and the way each worked in support of each of the others, I developed a deep respect for the manner in which the human body was created. To think that we are the result of innumerable mutations is beyond rational thought in my humble opinion!
Psalm 139:14 (NIV)
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
Yes, our bodies are wonderfully made and I believe it is important to instill in our children an early respect and appreciation of our bodies as God created them to be. Physical activity brings such joy to children. We have three grandsons who are nearing their first birthday and as they pull up on everything in reach, it tickles me to watch them “dance” whenever they hear music. They bounce and sway to the music, and it comes naturally without any intentional instruction.
It is also fun to watch children when they are set free in a wide open space – they RUN! You open the car doors at a park and as soon as they get free of the confines of their seat belts they burst forth with physical activity. Healthy bodies were designed to move, and when we are able to use our bodies as God intended, it brings joy. Our brains release serotonin when we engage in physical activity and it works in children as well. Children need to play physically. They will eat better, sleep better, and get along with others better when they move muscles and expend energy. Think about the times weather prevents outside play (cabin fever) and the irritability that results in the parents as well as the children. Planning physical activity is just as important as planning meals and naps.
Some ways to work physical activity into busy schedules are:
- take walks while supper is in the oven. The walk can be short, but it will exercise muscles and encourage appetites.
- dance around to a favorite praise CD, even create your own exercise routine, jumping, hopping, arm circles, toe touches, etc.
- make a obstacle course/fitness course in your yard. This can be very simple: a log to jump over, a landscape timber to balance along, a tree/bush, rock, to run around and back.
- ride bikes/ tricycles together. This may not be possible depending on location, but bike riding and scooter riding certainly gets the heart rate up.
- walk to places whenever possible. Again, this depends on your location, but it provides exercise while getting you to your destination.
- include your child in your personal exercise routine at times. This is not always possible, but even if you must adapt your pace or length of workout to include your child, it will reap great rewards.
- find a nearby park and meet friends/family there to play
- some children are born with physical limitations. It is a special challenge for parents to work with these children within the limits of their physical abilities.
I Corinthians 9: 24-25
24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.
These verses refer to the physical discipline that athletes need to succeed, just as we must discipline ourselves to follow Christ. All of us must find the physical activities that best meet our children’s unique situation. Making physical activity an early and important part of our child’s life will bless them for them for the rest of their lives and celebrate the glory of God’s creation.
Next week the topic is Emotional Health of Young Children.