ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Physical Activity and Child Development

Updated on August 26, 2012
Give baby plenty of playtime on the floor. It helps stimulate physical and mental growth. (source: teaches12345)
Give baby plenty of playtime on the floor. It helps stimulate physical and mental growth. (source: teaches12345)

It's Only Child's Play

This was his third attempt to grasp the rattle in front of him. Each time he stretched and reached out he moved a little closer to the toy. His gaze was intent upon the rounded blue top and his whole body wiggled with delight as he cooed over his advancements. It was amazing to watch this little baby hard at work.

If we could only peek inside of his marvelous brain, we would see that the child is actually processing information rapidly, visualizing the results and then turning them into skills. This is all due to the brain's response to movement and sending information (signals) to the child's somatosensory cortex for processing. Play processes activate neurotransmitters that help a child develop neural pathways in the brain which aid in the formation of behavioural and social development.

Resources on Child Development

Great Physical Activity for Babies

Baby Aerobics

My husband found it very amusing to watch me exercise my four month old's legs and arms a few minutes each morning. I would sing a song and simulate him gently marching to the beat and also clap his hands in time to the music. My husband would chuckle and roll his eyes, followed by, " I know it's good for the body and brain. But, do you think he's enjoying it?" All right, he didn't always smile during the exercise time, but I believe he learned to crawl at an early age as a result. The truth is physical movement leads to brain growth and development which is important in building a child's sense of balance and motor coordination.

Studies have proved that infants who are placed on the floor right from birth to experience movement learn to respond quicker to their environment. Babies learn depth perception as they observe and move through the space around them. As an infant begins to lift her head, roll over, and kick her legs, her muscles are beginning to strengthen and the brain is also processing the new information for future use. Some pediatricians believe that children who learn movement early in life develop a stronger respiratory system and it contributes to the child being able to eat solid foods earlier. (Source: J. Doman, Institute for Achievement for Human Potential)

Physical Activity: Simon Says Movement Suggestions

These cross-lateral moves will help the brain to stimulate connectivity between both hemispheres (contralateral and ipsilateral connections). This will aid in the growth of primary sensory and motor skills in child development.

  • Pat head and rub belly
  • March and pat your belly
  • Tap your head and pat your knee
  • March and clap your hands
  • March while touching your elbows to your knees

Physical Activity For Older Children

A study completed by J. Pallatschek and F. Hagen in 1996 showed that children engaged in early physical education showed superior motor fitness, academic performance and attitude toward school as compared to children who did not.

Movement stimulates the inner ear which contributes to motor coordination and balance. Believe it or not, a child's spinning around and around can actually help them to relax and remain focused on academic learning activities. Gentle rocking motions help to stimulate brain activity, which is why many children love rocking chairs, swings and tipping back on chairs (to the demise of most parents).

Getting children outdoors to play is crucial to motor skill development. The running, jumping and climbing builds those large muscles and helps them to strengthen through play. Studies have reported that through physical play children decrease stress, improve their immune system and respond at a faster rate to challenges due to increased brain stimulation.

The following are suggested play activities that will help your child to develop a strong body and mind. I have included some indoor games for those days when weather prevents going outside. These types of games work the entire body while providing oxygen to the brain and strengthening the basal ganglia (vision-sensory perception) and cerebellum. The cerebellum is the part of the brain that coordinates muscle movement, maintains equilibrium, and helps us to respond to stimuli. As a parent, you can appreciate all the wonderful results from encouraging physical activity such as this. Just make sure the level of games are age appropriate and supervised. For instance, jump rope is usually a skill for older pre-school children and up


  • Aerobics
  • Musical Chairs
  • Stretching Games (i.e. "Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes")
  • Ball Toss (use foam type)


  • Hop Skotch
  • Swings and merry-go-rounds
  • Jump rope
  • Walking and Running

Physical activity is a key factor in child development. Parents who stimulate their infant through active play will help their child to develop mentally and physically and will increase their ability to perform well as they grow, especially when they reach those academic years.

It didn't take much to get our grandchildren outdoors for some physical activity, even in the winter! Brrrrr!
It didn't take much to get our grandchildren outdoors for some physical activity, even in the winter! Brrrrr!

This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)