When you’re a child, there is no greater feeling in the world than flying through the air on a swing. The breeze against your face and the thrill of being airborne are a cherished part of childhood in many parts of the world. But this beloved playground staple is also beneficial to your child’s health and development.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, playground equipment, including swings, has as much impact on a child’s development as their time in a formal classroom setting. Swinging is more than just free entertainment — although that’s a huge benefit too! It’s also an excellent way for children to get the exercise their bodies and their brains need.
Swinging is fun. That’s all most children are thinking about as they run toward the swings when they arrive at the park. What kids — and many parents — don’t realize is that swinging has several physical benefits that can help them grow and develop.
Balance, Coordination and Motor Planning
A traditional strap swing or tire swing requires quite a bit of coordination and motor planning to learn how to maneuver and pump. Using a swing takes a significant amount of balance as well. Most children (around ages 2-4) can learn to pump, though some may learn later. Even for adults, using a standard swing can be highly beneficial to their coordination. Platform swings and bolster swings also require coordination but even more so, they challenge one’s sense of balance.
Deep inside our joints are Golgi Tendon Organs or receptors that signal our brains to let us know where our joints are in space. A swing such as the Air Walker can encourage spatial and proprioceptive awareness as pressure is applied to the body through movement and heavy work. Once our bodies are more organized, we can then sit, attend and accomplish more work at school, home or office.
Ah….When you think of a hammock, surely you think of quiet and peace. Maybe you see yourself reading a book, taking a nap or just hanging out in your backyard hammock. Hammocks have come a long way and can be used indoors, in lieu of a bed or sleeping bag or outside. The back and forth motion stimulates the inner ear and has much the same effect as lying on a float.
Focus and Attention
For some swinging can be quite alerting and show prolonged effects on focus and the ability to attend. Just a few minutes on a swing can carry on into the classroom, office space or meeting room improving the ability to concentrate. The physical workout with increased endorphins and better blood flow to the brain can mean you are now on high alert.
Some individuals do not process the world around them efficiently and so their nervous system misinterprets sensory information. When that happens we say they have sensory integration dysfunction. Swinging can have a positive effect on those individuals by stimulating their sense of motion and vestibular orientation.
Have you ever seen a sad person coming off a swing? Not likely. Swinging is a mood booster. As you swing, your endorphin levels are released. Swinging is just pure pleasure and the pressure on the body and the skin receptors can stimulate skin receptors and actually elevate the mood.
No matter how you do it, swinging can help both your physical and mental health. But perhaps the most important aspect of going for a good swing, is that it is loads of fun, no matter your age. So, get swinging!