Article at a Glance
• Active kids are healthier and better adjusted.
• Kids need to be involved in physical activities that include endurance, strength, and flexibility.
• Eencourage physical activity by limiting TV time and being a good example.
You don’t see kids at gyms because they don’t need them. Kids get their exercise from playing, and that active playtime is critical to their development. Active kids have less body fat, a decreased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, strong muscles and bones, lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and less sleep problems. They are also able to handle life better — both physically and emotionally.
Ideally, kids should be involved in physical activities that encourage endurance, strength, and flexibility.
Endurance: Endurance involves aerobic activities that get the heart rate up. This helps strengthen the heart and lungs and increases the oxygen available to the body. Activities like running, soccer, basketball, bike riding, swimming, and skating are all examples of aerobic exercise.
Strength: Adults typically lift weights to improve their strengthen, but weight-training is inappropriate for young children and older children need to be under the supervision of a qualified adult. For kids, activities like climbing, wrestling, push-ups, and pull-ups are great ways for to build strength.
Flexibility: Kids have lots of opportunities to stretch as they play, whether they are reaching for a toy or doing cartwheels. Age appropriate stretching exercises also help improve flexibility.
Looking for ways to help your kids be more active? Here are some tips:
1. Limit TV time to no more than one to two hours a day. Children under the age of two should not watch TV at all.
2. Kids older than two need at least 60 minutes a day of active play. Babies and young children should not be inactive for more than an hour unless sleeping.
3. Schedule in time for physical activities during the day.
4. Teach your children how to play. Suggest fun, age-appropriate activities and don’t be shy about joining in.
5. Be a good role model. Decisions like portion sizes and whether or not to take the stairs or elevator will influence the decisions your children make later in life.
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