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What is Play
Benefits of Play: Physical
It is widely accepted that children get stronger, healthier bodies when they engage in activities that having them working their muscles, heart and lungs – their ENTIRE body. Running, biking, skateboarding, swimming, climbing, and sports are a few of the activities that promote physical fitness. If your child uses assistive devices, such as wheelchairs, walkers, orthotics, etc., or must rely on others to assist him or her to physically move, he or she can achieve an optimal level of physical benefit from involvement in more active recreational pursuits. The physical benefits of play are numerous.
Fine and Gross Motor SkillsFine and gross motor skills are developed and enhanced through recreational involvement. As a child at play learns to reach, crawl, walk, run, climb, jump, throw, catch and balance, gross motor skills are developed and maintained. Fine motor skills are developed through the use of hands and fingers to handle and manipulate toys.
Strength, flexibility, coordinationThrough the repetition of basic physical skills in play, children perfect their abilities and become competent in increasingly difficult physical tasks. The rough and tumble of active play facilitates children’s sensorimotor development, which is proper coordination between brain signals and the movement of the body. Hand-eye coordination is also improved through play, as well as the development of strong, agile muscles.
Play experiences promote coordination and the development of fine and gross motor skills.
Stronger, healthier bodiesPlay benefits the body in many ways. Today, there are increasing concerns about childhood inactivity and the devastating effects it has on the body. Engaging in play increases one’s physical activity level, which can reduce risk of hypertension, diabetes, obesity, asthma, and other serious health problems including psychological disorders such as depression (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2001). The Surgeon General recommends that children participate in a minimum of 60 minutes of moderate physical activity daily (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2001). If a child’s disability prevents him or her from meeting this goal, a modified plan may need to be developed that accommodates the child’s specific needs and fitness level. Physical activity also has physiological effects on the body that make us feel good. For example, in response to play and laughter, the body releases a chemical known as endorphins which alleviates stress and produces good feelings.
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This online resource has been created through a collaborative project of the National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability (NCHPAD) with content and design development by the National Center on Accessibility (NCA) and the Indiana University School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation. This project is funded through Grant/Cooperative Agreement Number U59/CCU522742-02 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of CDC.
All rights reserved. No part of this guide may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
Copyright 2013, Board of Trustees of the University of Alabama at Birmingham.