The Health and Wellbeing column with Heart Research UK: Children will be physically active while having a ball

Here is the latest in a series of healthy heart tips written by the Health Promotion and Education Team at Heart Research UK.

By Katie Rufus
Wednesday, 22nd June 2022, 3:00 pm
Most under-5s do not need much encouragement to play. Photo: Heart Research UK
Most under-5s do not need much encouragement to play. Photo: Heart Research UK

Here is the latest in a series of healthy heart tips written by the Health Promotion and Education Team at Heart Research UK.

This time the tips cover ball game ideas for young children.

At Heart Research UK we are all about promoting ways in which we can keep our hearts healthy, and we know that being physically active can play a large part.

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We believe it’s important for everyone to think about the health of their hearts regardless of their age.

Children make physical developmental progress mostly through play and being active every day is important for the healthy, growth and development of children of all ages.

Physical activity provides a whole host of benefits, including physical benefits, such as stronger heart, bones, and healthier muscles, as well as improved fitness and cardiovascular health.

Not forgetting, the mental and psychological benefits it provides such as improved self-confidence and increased concentration.

Children of pre-school age, who can walk unaided should be physically active for at least three hours spread throughout the day, although most under-5s do not need much encouragement to play.

Children of this age can have high levels of energy that they need to expend – the more active the better!

Ball games are fun at any age, and a great way to get our hearts pumping! Here we explore some games you can enjoy with the little ones in your life, whether they are babies, toddlers or pre-schoolers.

Don’t forget to praise their efforts and show them that you enjoy the games you play together, too!

Here are some basic tips covering ball games

Babies

Even babies can enjoy playing with a ball. When a baby can hold up their head while lying on their tummy, encourage them to reach for the ball, by placing it just out of reach. This will encourage them to explore their surroundings, reach and grab.

Toddlers

Encourage your child to throw, kick and roll the ball to you. Make this easier at first by sitting or standing close to each other.

Practice makes perfect – don’t expect your little one to catch straight away.

You could even use a cardboard box or washing basket as a goal.

Pre-schoolers

Show your child how to use their hand as a bat.

Bowl the ball to them and encourage them to hit it!

As your little one improves; change the rules so that they must run from one base to another after a hit. The next step is rounders or cricket!

○ For more tips on how to stay healthy, sign up for the weekly healthy tips at www.heartresearch.org.uk/healthy-tips.

○ To help keep your heart healthy, why not try out some healthy heart recipes from the Heart Research UK website: heartresearch.org.uk/heart-research-uk-recipes-2/.