What factors affect physical development?

Building blocks of physical development include crawling, playing with toys and walking. Physical development, the development of fine and gross motor skills, begins in infancy and fully develops by the age of seven.

Fine Motor Skills

Fine motor skills involve the use of small muscles. Cutting paper and gripping a ball are examples of activities that use fine motor skills.

Gross Motor Skills

Gross motor skills involve the use of large muscles. Milestones in physical development, like learning to crawl and walk, are examples of gross motor skills.


The core principles of physical development, such as learning muscle control, are universal. However, how fine and gross motor skills are utilised is variable to culture. For example, in the United States of America playing little league baseball is a common use of fine and gross motor skills while in other countries sports like soccer and rugby may be more common.


Access to both indoor and outdoor environments is an important part of physical development. Giving a child the opportunity to explore different environments allows the child to learn new fine and gross motor skills, like riding a bike and swimming.


Physical limitations created by disabilities will have a hindering affect on physical development. Disabilities can delay or even prevent the development of certain fine and gross motor skills.

Other Factors

Other contributing factors to physical development include genetics, nutrition, coordination and perception. Perceiving distances accurately is important for safety.

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About the Author

Zachary Fenell is a 2009 graduate of Notre Dame College of Ohio. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in communication with minors in philosophy and writing. Fenell has been writing since 2002, when he joined his high school newspaper, "The Arc Light." In college Fenell won awards for excellence in English and communication.