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Health Information For Parents
When most adults think about exercise, they imagine working out in the gym, running on a treadmill, or lifting weights.
But for kids, exercise means playing and being physically active. Kids exercise when they have gym class at school, during recess, at dance class or soccer practice, while riding bikes, or when playing tag.
Everyone can benefit from regular exercise. Active kids will have:
Besides enjoying the health benefits of regular exercise, fit kids sleep better. They’re also better able to handle physical and emotional challenges — from running to catch a bus to studying for a test.
If you’ve ever watched kids on a playground, you’ve seen the three elements of fitness in action when they:
Parents should encourage their kids to do a variety of activities so that they can work on all three elements.
Endurance develops when kids regularly get
activity. During aerobic exercise, large muscles are moving, the heart beats faster, and a person breathes harder. Aerobic activity strengthens the heart and improves the body’s ability to deliver oxygen to all its cells.
Aerobic exercise can be fun for both adults and kids. Aerobic activities include:
Improving strength doesn’t have to mean lifting weights. Instead, kids can do push-ups, stomach crunches, pull-ups, and other exercises to help tone and strengthen muscles. They also improve their strength when they climb, do a handstand, or wrestle.
Stretching exercises help improve flexibility, allowing muscles and joints to bend and move easily through their full range of motion. Kids get chances every day to stretch when they reach for a toy, practice a split, or do a cartwheel.
Kids and teens are sitting around a lot more than they used to. They spend hours every day in front of a screen (TVs, smartphones, tablets, and other devices) looking at a variety of media (TV shows, videos, movies, games). Too much screen time and not enough physical activity add to the problem of childhood obesity.
One of the best ways to get kids to be more active is to limit the amount of time spent in sedentary activities, especially watching TV or other screens. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that parents:
Parents should make sure that their kids get enough exercise. So, how much is enough? Kids and teens should get 60 minutes or more of moderate to vigorous physical activity daily.
Toddlers and preschool children should play actively several times a day. Toddlers should get at least 60 minutes active play every day and preschoolers should have at least 120 minutes active play every day. This time should include planned, adult-led physical activity and unstructured active free play.
Young children should not be inactive for long periods of time — no more than 1 hour unless they’re sleeping. And school-age children should not be inactive for periods longer than 2 hours.
Combining regular physical activity with a healthy diet is the key to a healthy lifestyle.
Here are some tips for raising fit kids:
Parents can help instill a love of activity and help kids make it a part of their everyday routine.
Preschoolers have a lot of energy, and the physical skills and coordination to ride a tricycle or chase a butterfly.
A preschooler’s desire to move, move, move makes this a great time to encourage fitness habits that can last a lifetime.
Being active is a key component of good health for all school-age kids. So how do you get kids motivated to be active, especially those who aren’t gifted athletes?
Following these safety guidelines can make neighborhood playgrounds entertaining and safe for your kids.
It might look like just child’s play, but toddlers are hard at work learning important physical skills as they gain muscle control, balance, and coordination.
Some kids aren’t natural athletes and they may say they just don’t like sports. What then?
With a properly designed and supervised program, strength training can be a fun way for kids to build healthy muscles, joints, and bones.
Is working out with weights safe for teens? The best way to build muscle tone and definition is to combine aerobic and flexibility exercises with the right kind of strength training.
These videos guide teens through basic strength training exercises. Anyone can do these exercises, and they work well as part of a weight-loss plan.
Bob Bowman coaches Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps. He shares his thoughts on improving sports performance in this article for teens.
Sports can be challenging when you’re new to them, but they also can be really fun. Take a second look at sports – and learn other ways to be active – in this article for kids.
A lot of people talk about fit kids, but how do you become one? Here are five rules to live by, if you want to eat right, be active, and keep a healthy weight.
Exercise can help keep a kid’s body fit and healthy. Learn more about what exercise can do for you in this article for kids.
Finding it hard to fit in fitness? Try these simple exercises for teens.
If you’re having trouble choosing a sport, this article can help!
Getting the right amount of exercise can rev up your energy levels and even help you to feel better emotionally. Find out why.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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