Everyday activity helps build kids' physical fitness

Growing childhood obesity in Singapore is indeed a concern. Sadly, it is a common sight to see highly mobile children - between 21/2 and six years old - in strollers.

Once, when I asked a six-year-old girl why she did not join a zoo excursion trip, she replied: "I don't like to walk." I was shocked.

Parents who push their children around in strollers are depriving them of the chance to exercise their perceptual-motor skills to navigate their surroundings, avoid obstacles and make spatial-distance judgments.

Parents need to seize every opportunity to encourage their pre-schoolers to walk and climb to build their strength, cardio-respiratory endurance, speed, balance, strength and flexibility.

It is everyday practice that gives children the much-needed confidence and physical fitness to improve their health and social-emotional well-being.

For the new Nurture Kids programme to be successful (Workouts and nutrition lessons for pre-schoolers; Oct 6), we will need specialised pre-school teachers who are trained in developmental physical education for young children.

Teachers need to intentionally plan and teach fundamental movement skills to our pre-schoolers, just like they teach numbers and the alphabet. We cannot leave it to chance.

Pre-schoolers are keen observers. They watch and internalise values and mindsets displayed by their immediate adult caregivers. Teachers and parents are vital role models to inspire our pre-schoolers to engage in physical activities.

Rebecca Chan (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 20, 2017, with the headline 'Everyday activity helps build kids' physical fitness'. Print Edition | Subscribe