Centre for Community Child Health

Movement and exercise for kids

  • Movement and exercise for kids

    Every day, childcare settings and school playgrounds come to life as children crawl, walk, run, jump, climb and skip. When children move and exercise, it not only has immediate benefits like improving fitness, motor skills and self-confidence; it also supports lifelong health and wellbeing.

    In your role as an early childhood educator or early primary teacher, you can work with parents to help make movement and exercise a part of children’s everyday life.


    What is movement and exercise?

    Movement is what we do every day. Great examples in newborns and babies are things like lifting and holding up the head, kicking, reaching and grabbing. In preschool to early primary children, walking, cycling and chores are great examples of movement.

    Exercise is planned, structured, repetitive and purposeful. Exercise improves or maintains one or more types of physical fitness including endurance, strength and flexibility.

    Fitness   Example 
    Endurance Crawling
    Running away from the child who is ‘it’
    Strength  Pulling to stand
    Crossing the monkey bars
    Flexibility Reaching for a toy
    Bending down to tie shoelaces


    Also in this edition

    Promoting movement and exercise:

    Sign up to the Grow & Thrive newsletter


    Why do kids need to move and exercise?

    There are lots of ways that children benefit from movement and exercise. Being active:

    • helps achieve and maintain a healthy weight
    • promotes healthy growth and development
    • builds strong bones and muscles
    • improves balance, movement and coordination
    • maintains and develops flexibility
    • improves cardiovascular fitness
    • helps relaxation
    • improves posture
    • provides opportunities to make friends
    • builds social skills
    • improves self-confidence and independence.

    Make every step count this September

    During the first week in September, kids around Australia will be stepping towards a healthier future. They will make every step count and raise money to support child health research—all by wearing a cool pedometer slapband!

    Step-a-thon is free and the first 25,000 primary school kids to register will be sent a pedometer to make counting steps easy. Pedometers may arrive during step-a-thon week but it’s not too late—kids can start stepping any time that week!

    Encourage parents to register their kids now and join the school mailing list to get advanced notice for Step-a-thon 2014. Hurry, registrations close Sunday 25 August!


    How can movement and exercise help children in the long-term?

    One in four Australian children carries too much weight. Unfortunately, research tells us that children who carry excess weight are likely to grow up to become adults who carry too much weight too. This increases their risk of:

    • developing cardiovascular diseases like heart disease or stroke, diabetes and other diseases at a younger age
    • musculoskeletal disorders, especially osteoarthritis
    • developing certain types of cancer like breast or colon cancer
    • disabling effects—these can include the inability to walk even a few blocks, stoop, lift a moderate amount of weight, or stand up from an armless chair
    • premature death. 

    The earlier that good physical activity routines start, the more likely children will be to become active adults. Beyond helping to avoid the problems of excess weight, there are lots of other lifelong benefits like stronger self-esteem, social skills and emotional wellbeing.

    What can I do to help children be active every day?

    There is so much that you can do to help children make movement and exercise a part of their everyday life in the childcare setting, classroom and beyond.

    Check out the following articles to find out what you can do to raise parents’ and children’s awareness of fun movement and exercise routines and their many benefits.

    Promoting movement and exercise

    Sign up to the Grow & Thrive newsletter

      Gandel Philanthropy