Nowadays many children spend a lot time being inactive. One of the biggest roadblocks to getting exercise is the long sedentary hours spent in watching TV, playing games, and web surfing. Encourage your children to find fun activities to do with family members or on their own that simply involve more action.
Physical activity has great health benefits like:
- Strengthening bones and muscles;
- Reducing stress and anxiety;
- Improving posture and flexibility;
- Increasing self-esteem;
- Helping with weight management;
- Developing social skills and making friends;
- Decreasing blood pressure, having a healthy heart and blood vessels.
Kids aged between 5 and 12 years old should participate in at least 60 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity most days of the week, and every day if possible. Parents can set a great example! Start adding physical activity to your own daily routine and encourage your child to join you. Some examples of moderate-intensity physical activity include:
- Brisk walking
- Playing tag
- Jumping rope
- Playing soccer
Think of presents for your birthday and Christmas that help get you active – balls, bats, totem tennis, hoola hoop, Frisbee, kite, skipping rope or a trampoline!
- Playing can help you sleep deeply at night
- Playing can boost your mood: it increases feeling of happiness and gratitude and enhance your energy levels
- Playing can fuel your brain: few workouts or some jumping jacks before starting to study help you unwind from the day, regain focus and improve your concentration
- Playing with friends can strengthen your bonds and help you to build new ones.
- Playing can increase your body’s fitness and flexibility
Every child is unique. Let your child experiment with different activities until they find something that they really love doing. They’ll stick with it longer if they love it. When your child starts to show natural preferences for certain sports or activities, keep in mind his/her age, maturity and abilities.
Ages 2 to 5
children at this age are beginning to master many basic movements, but they're too young for most organized sports.
Unstructured free play is usually best. Try:
Ages 6 to 9
At this age, children’s vision, attention spans and transitional skills, such as throwing for distance, improve. They're also better at following directions.
Consider organized activities such as:
- T-ball, softball or baseball
- Martial arts
Carefully supervised strength training is OK at age 7 or 8, too.
Ages 10 to 12
By this age, children have mature vision and the ability to understand and recall sports strategies. These children are typically ready to take on complex skill sports, such as football, basketball, hockey and volleyball. Keep in mind, however, that growth spurts caused by puberty can temporarily affect a child's coordination and balance.