Fitness and Your 6- to 12-Year-Old
Kids this age need physical activity to build strength, coordination, confidence, and to lay the groundwork for a healthy lifestyle. They're also gaining more control over how active they are.
School-age kids should have many opportunities to participate in a variety of activities, sports, and games that fit for their personality, ability, age, and interests. Brainstorm with your kids on activities that feel right. Most kids won't mind a daily dose of fitness as long as it's fun.
The National Association for Sports and Physical Education recommends that school-age kids:
- get 1 hour or more of moderate and vigorous physical activity on most or all days
- participate in several bouts of physical activity of 15 minutes or more each day
- avoid periods of inactivity of 2 hours or more
Fitness at Home
Many parents and kids think of organized sports when they think of fitness. Though there are many advantages to signing a child up for the softball team, practice and games once or twice a week will not be enough to reach activity goals. In addition, parents can no longer rely on physical education in schools to provide enough physical activity for kids.
Here are some ways to keep your kids moving at home:
- Incorporate physical activity into the daily routine. From household chores to an after-dinner walk, keep your family active every day.
- Allow enough time for free play. Kids can burn more calories and have more fun when left to their own devices. Playing tag, riding bikes around the neighborhood, and building snowmen are fun and healthy.
- Keep a variety of games and sports equipment on hand. It doesn't have to be expensive — an assortment of balls, hula-hoops, and jump ropes can keep kids busy for hours.
- Be active together. It'll get you moving and kids love to play with their parents.
- Limit time spent in sedentary activities, such as watching TV, going online, and playing video games.
When you have exhausted the possibilities at home, take advantage of local playgrounds and athletic fields. Make family fitness outings part of your regular routine. Let family members choose an activity — go hiking, ice skating, or try out the rock-climbing gym. Anything goes, as long as everyone can participate.
You can help show your kids that exercise is important by regularly exercising yourself.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
© 1995-2009 The Nemours Foundation. All rights reserved.
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