>> Nov 26, 2012
Did you ever stop to watch people who are fit and healthy? They move around a lot because it is a habit. The same thing applies to those who are relatively sedentary. They don't move around much because it is a habit formed at some point in their past. Thus, a parent can make fitness and good health a lifelong habit for their kids, and the best way to do this is to find ways of incorporating exercise into their daily routines.
Children under the age of six will need different tactics than kids over that age, and teens may need to be fooled into getting up and moving if it has not yet become a daily habit. This means you want to understand the best approaches to use during the different developmental stages.
We break them down into some very obvious age groups:
· Five and under
· Six to eight
· Nine to eleven
· Twelve to fourteen
· Fifteen and up
Before we look at the individual groupings, however, let's consider some sound advice from pediatric experts. For instance, most say that kids should not use sports as their only form of exercise. Instead such activities should be seen as supplemental. Why? It has to do with the psychology of the matter. When kids associate exercise with competition it can create a negative feeling about activities of many kinds. Rather than running such a risk, it is best to encourage kids to enjoy free play time and to engage in sporting events in addition to their regular exercise.
Thus, you as a parent have to get out and play with your kids! Make sure you spend thirty minutes per day doing something physical with the family, and make it a habit not a chore or a "must do". Suggestions include yard work, house chores, taking a walk, running the dogs, etc. Just make sure it is fun and rewarding for all and you have laid the foundation for a lifetime of fitness.
Kids under the age of five need to play. They must never be pushed into competitive sports at such an early stage. This is why you can encourage them to do things such as soccer, football, and baseball, but only to have fun with others. Rather than focusing on sports oriented skills it is always better to help them with developmental matters.
Swimming, as an example, really helps kids with breath control and motor coordination. You can also do such things as early movement and dance, or simply have your toddlers help you in the yard with raking, gardening, or kicking around a ball!
Six to Eight
This is a remarkable age and you will watch in wonder as your six year-old seems to master many bodily movements seemingly overnight. This is a period of time in which you can safely introduce sports and competition. Do stick with the advice about sports as a supplemental activity though because there are many examples of long term injuries sustained in the form of stress fractures due to sporting injuries.
Kids are really in a developmental period here so give them a chance to use all kinds of muscles. Dancing, swimming, soccer, baseball, hiking, and even stretching and floor exercises are just fine. The wider the variety, the better the results.
Nine to Eleven
By this time you will know if your child is a "natural" in terms of a particular sport. This is the period in which future soccer champs emerge and when runners show their first interests. This is also an age when it is safe to encourage the child's competitive edge because it will no longer contradict their need for skill development.
Twelve to Fourteen
This is a period similar to the previous one. Kids have to be mindful of "overdoing it". If they have gone through puberty they can follow the "Fifteen and Older" guidelines. If not, they should remain at the "Nine to Eleven" standards.
Fifteen and Older
If puberty has already hit, this child can do the same sorts of exercise as an adult. The only thing to monitor is nutritional intake. They are still growing and need to keep up calories and nutrients.
Daily exercise is ideal when partnered with sports, but be mindful of how it is done. Following these steps and tips will ensure that fitness is a habit your child keeps throughout life.
Valerie Johnston is a health and fitness writer located in East Texas. With ambitions of one day running a marathon, writing for Healthline.com ensures she keeps up-to-date on all of the latest health and fitness news.