Exercise can be child's play
It's never too early to introduce physical activity to children, according to a leading Dublin physiotherapist.
Even babies should be active several times a day, Nicola Lyden, a senior paediatric physiotherapist at Our Lady's Children's Hospital Crumlin, said at the launch of a campaign designed to raise physical activity levels.
Playing on a mat, including "tummy time", is very important and can help the development of movement skills, she said.
Toddlers should spend at least three hours spread throughout the day being physically active. This helps to develop their senses, posture, balance, coordination and social skills.
Lyden, who is also chairperson of the Chartered Physiotherapists in Paediatrics group, added that toddlers should be encouraged to be more active by organising activities with other children.
Children with disabilities have less opportunity for movement throughout the day. It is essential that they are encouraged to participate in activity and sports from a young age, to cultivate an interest and promote independence.
Some sports will need to be adapted to allow participation, and the child with a disability may need additional support, Lyden added.
Health & Living