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Exercises as medicine: How does exercise benefit my child?

We have all heard at some time or another that exercises are good for our bodies and mental health. We will often hear from doctors, psychologists, therapists, or other professionals educating us about the benefits of exercising.

Exercise is good for the mind and body.

Exercises not only improve physical development (strength, coordination, tolerance) for children, but also improves their cognitive function.

Exercises can benefit a child’s…

  1. Motor skills (gross motor and fine motor skills)

  2. A person’s overall physical ability, including muscle strength, coordination, postural control, and tolerance.

  3. We need gross motor (arms and legs) and fine motor (hands and fingers) skills to function in daily life.

  4. Examples of gross motor skill: walking, jumping, running, climbing stairs

  5. Examples of fine motor skill: handwriting, using utensil, fastening clothes

  6. Cognitive skill

  7. Attention span, problem solving, memory, creativity

  8. Self-care/personal hygiene

  9. Self-care ability is a person’s ability to take care of themselves, such as dressing, brushing teeth, going to the bathroom, and eating with utensils.

  1. Sensory processing skill

  2. Exercises can help to improve a person’s body awareness and balance

  3. Outdoor sports will offer children opportunities to explore with different sensory inputs to increase their sensory regulation and tolerance.

  4. Socialization

  5. Sports teams provide children with opportunities to learn teamwork, social participation and follow directions.

These are the skills that are required to help us function and be independent in daily living.

Engage your child in different sports or exercises. Different sports will stimulate different parts of the body.

Swimming, baseball, basketball, soccer, hiking, biking, dancing. Overall, exercises can benefit a child’s physical health in coordination, muscle strength, balance, cognitive skill, socialization, and sensory processing skill.

Turn the music on and dance with your child!

I would like my child to engage in sports but they have difficulty due to physical or mental limitations. What can I do?

Adapted sports are alternative sports modified for people with physical or mental disabilities to participate. There are adapted sports not only for children with physical disabilities, but for children with mental and cognitive disabilities.

Seattle Children’s adaptive sports and recreation listing:

I am proud to be an occupational therapist. Ella Wu, OTD, OTR/L Doctor of Occupational Therapy
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