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Physical development in middle childhood is affected by a number of factors, most of which are similar to those affecting development at other ages as well. Three of the most influential during this period of change are genetics, activity level and type, and diet. People can control two of these three quite easily, while the third, genetics, is relatively constant throughout one's life. There are a number of steps that a child and parent may take to maximize the odds of healthy physical development in middle childhood.
Childhood is characterized as the time period between birth and adolescence. Although numerically classified, childhood can technically be different for each child because the onset of adolescence does not occur at a universal age. Middle childhood is the center of this time period, usually describing the time in which children are in grade school. This period of growth and development is a particularly impressionable time for the bodies and minds of young people, and environmental factors can create life-lasting physical and mental characteristics. This is why it is important to maximize the number of positive influences available both physically and mentally.
Genetics are the inherent characteristics that dictate much of who people become. They, of course, also play a role in development. Unfortunately, there are not many things that can change genetic influences. If a person is predisposed to grow tall, short, quickly, or slowly, he or she is likely to do this regardless of other variables. For this reason, physical development in middle childhood should focus more on dependent variables, such as nutrition and activity levels.
Nutrition is important in all phases of life as a body cannot function well, let alone live, without the proper nutrients. Nutritionists are professionals who can provide advice regarding healthy diets in young people. They have creative ideas for implementing effective diets for healthy physical development in middle childhood.
Another way to positively influence physical development in middle childhood is to monitor the activity levels of children. Activity is necessary for healthy living of the body and mind; children are no exception, and they should be taking part in playful activity that stresses their cardiovascular and muscoloskeletal systems. This can help develop their muscles and bones properly. Having children involved in regular activity such as an intramural sport may aid in developing an exercise schedule. Strength training should be avoided at this age as there is preliminary evidence of its counterproductive effects on skeletal growth.