Physical exercise is of critical importance during the first year of life, as important as intellectual and emotional development. Babies can exercise more muscles in water. They are less restricted by gravity in their ability to move. The increased strength that water babies develop often manifests itself in the early acquisition of other motor skills, such as standing and walking. Swimming improves the baby’s cardiovascular fitness. Fitness benefits include increase in strength, muscle tone, endurance and lung capacity. Swimming also allows babies to improve on their land based skills quicker, due to the fact that they use both lobes of the brain improving coordination, motor development and balance by allowing babies to move bilaterally to maintain their equilibrium. Babies exposed to water earlier are happier and healthier than other babies. By teaching your baby the proper swimming skills, you can actually enhance his learning ability, as well as making the baby happier, healthier and more self confident. Babies who develop their swimming abilities are often more alert for their age with a better eating and sleeping pattern.

Doctors often recommend swimming as the exercise of choice for asthmatics. For many asthmatics, exercise produces bronchial hyperactivity. Swimming stimulates less wheezing than other forms of exercise, possibly because the warm, moist air around pools is less irritating to the lungs.

Physical activity is essential for a baby’s growth and development because it :

  • Reduces the risk of developing heart disease later in life.
  • Strengthens muscles.
  • Helps strengthen joints and provides good posture.
  • Improves balance, coordination and flexibility.
  • Increases bone density, so bones are less likely to fracture.
  • Develops lung capacity.

Apart from these physical benefits, regular exercise develops a baby’s self-esteem by creating a strong sense of purpose and self fulfilment. Physical activity and the development of movement skills also help the baby to develop holistically.

  • Express ideas and feelings. Babies become aware that they can use their bodies to express themselves by moving in different ways as they respond to their moods and feelings.
  • Develop skills requiring coordination of different parts of the body.
  • Explore what their bodies can do and become aware of their increasing abilities, agility and skill. Their awareness of the space around them and what their bodies are capable of.
  • Cooperate with others in physical play and games. they become aware of play as both an individual and social activity.
  • Develop increasing control of fine movements. Fingers and hands – fine motor skills.
  • Develop balance and coordination.
  • Develop spatial awareness. Moving around. Practicing coordination and muscle control.

Physical development is the way in which the body increases in skill and becomes more complex in its performance.

There are two main areas : Gross motor skills – these are the large muscles in the body. The gross manipulative skills involve single limb movements, usually the arms (arm movements). Fine motor skills – smaller muscles in the body. The fine manipulative skills involve precise use of the hands and fingers.

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