Fundamental to your child’s

participation in physical activity

You may have heard that your child should be aiming for 60 minutes of physical activity each day, or that physical activity in childhood contributes to a physically active lifestyle in adulthood. You know physical activity is also important in today’s day and age with the rise of childhood obesity becoming evident.

Yet, the Australian Health Survey (AHS) 2011-2012 signified that only 1 in 3 children achieved the recommended 60 minutes of daily physical activity.

What could be the reasons behind these concerning statistics? Increased homework time? The preferred use of electronic devices and screen time as entertainment, over outside play? Or could it simply have to do with your child’s proficient movement patterns – or the lack of?



Movement of body parts such as the legs, arms, trunk and head are involved in performing the skills of running, hopping, catching, throwing, striking and balancing. Sound familiar? Of course, they are the skills your child needs to confidently participate in physical activity.

Collectively, these movement patterns are called ‘Fundamental Movement Skills’ (FMS). They are precursor patterns to more specialised, complex skills that are used in play, sports and other physical recreation activities.

There is evidence to suggest that children who lack proficiency in a variety of FMS find it harder to:

·  Join in playground games

·  Have reduced self-esteem and  


·  Frequently avoid physical activities

In the long run, this may affect the development of muscles and bones, reduce fitness levels and even reduce opportunities for developing social competence.

Studies also show children with physical disabilities tend to have lower physical activity levels compared to those without disability, due to impairments that potentially hinder their ability to move. So, with or without disability, it is important to focus the attention on training these movement patterns.


As opposed to the above, proficient movers often have higher self-esteem and self-confidence, are more popular playmates in school grounds, and to no surprise, are also more likely to maintain an active and healthy lifestyle.

In fact, children, with and without disability, who underwent FMS training in a 2015 study were found to have decreased sedentary time and increased physical activity time on weekends, with the impact being greater for children with a disability.



Although FMS can be developed later in life, early childhood is the optimal time to develop FMS, reasons simply being:

·     It’s harder to ‘unlearn’ bad habits, so earlier correction of movement patterns is better in the long run

·     It’s harder to learn something new if self-consciousness, or fears of being ridiculed prevent learning

Children are more likely to have the opportunity to reach their movement skill potential with early identification of problems. From there, providing the opportunity and support to learn the skills is the next best thing to offer.


Physical activity is important in child development due to its associated positive outcomes for musculoskeletal and cardiovascular health, and even socialisation.

Proficiency in movement patterns contributes to the health and wellbeing of your child by allowing them to participate confidently in physical activity at school and in the community, enabling potential lifelong involvement in physical activity.


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