One of the culprits responsible for the alarming obesity rise among both children and adults in the U.S. is too little physical activity.
It is now recommended that children get at least an hour of exercise a day.
Encouraging this important component of a healthy lifestyle can start as early as toddlerhood.
Ideally, most of a child’s physical activity will be aerobic.
Vigorous aerobic activity should be done at least THREE times A WEEK. Examples of this include brisk walking or running.
Muscle strengthening activities such as gymnastics or pushups also should be done at least three times a week.
It’s also recommended that bone strengthening exercises such as Jumping rope and running should be done at least THREE times A WEEK.
Other recommendations are:
For children 2-3 years old: Exercise should consist of supervised but unstructured play such as walking, running, climbing, swinging and even tumbling.
Children 4 to 6 years old: Children can play structured games such as tag or soccer. They also can learn to jump rope and can start participating in dance or gymnastics.
Children 7 to 9 years old: They are ready for team sports that are fun and low-pressure. If the games are too structured, though, a child may not want to participate. Children can also usually bicycle by this age.
Children 10 and older: By this age, children are usually better at understanding the rules and goals of a game.
This is the prime age to start taking team sports more seriously.
It is a good time to talk to children about sports to see how seriously they would like to participate in them and what their goals are.
They may be ready to move on to a higher level of difficulty in a sport if they are getting bored in their current one.
Other considerations for a child’s participation include size and strength when compared to others on the team, emotional maturity, the coaches’ experience and goals, and the (material) costs involved.
It should be remembered that a child does not have to participate in team sports to be physically fit.
Motivating children to be physically active can best be done by example.
Be a physically active parent, guardian, relative or friend.
Keep the activities safe for the children, but remember to keep them fun.
Dr. Charles Ison is a University of Kentucky graduate who has practiced in his hometown of Lexington since 1993. He is a partner in Pediatric and Adolescent Associates.