Growth And Development In Childhood Development

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Childhood development’ is defined as the sequence of changes from birth to adolescence, resulting from physiological, social and emotional factors (Maffulli & Pintore, 1990). The functions of almost all physiological systems improve until full maturity is reached or shortly before but which then plateau for a period before declining with advancing age. This is supported by academic research which shows this to be true for the changes in strength and flexibility of children through growth and development (Abrahams, 2013). A child who has not reached neural maturity will not have a full strength remit as their level of muscle development and performance is reliant on a fully developed nervous system. With full myelination of the motor nerves not complete until maturity Faigenbaum (2000, p.598) states that control of muscle function is limited before that time. Whilst neural maturity does continue, at puberty, the hormonal changes of increased testosterone in boys and oestrogen in girls lead to dramatic changes in body composition and increased strength, in boys particularly there are great improvements due to the increase and development of muscle mass. (Stein, 2014). Also during puberty, children become less flexible than they were prior to puberty as their bones grow more quickly than their muscles and the tendons can’t stretch to keep up (Ehrman, et al., 2009). At puberty, boys lose some body fat and attain more muscle but as a result lose flexibility. However, with the increase in oestrogen, girls increase their body fat but maintain or improve their flexibility once their growth spurt slows down. Strength defined as a component of both health-related and sport-related physical fitness, is the, ‘maximal amount of force a musc... ... middle of paper ... ...oved physical performance, greater freedom of movement, improved posture and an increase in physical and mental relaxation (Dantas, et al., 2011). Although an individual’s level of flexibility is primarily due to genetics, gender and age, it is important to recognize that the level of physical activity plays an important role as well. According to Kerr (2013) having good flexibility may help some children self-select into certain sports such as swimming, diving, gymnastics, tennis, or martial arts. However the downside of such high flexibility is reduced stability of the joints, which is one of the main causes of joint dislocations and sprains occurring more frequently (Kuh, et al., 2002). Therefore although males and females are relatively the same and respond similarly to exercise, it is the development of these fitness components in childhood that is different.
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