Children and Exercise

By Deb Withington

Parents often wonder if their children are getting enough exercise, and if they are, how much should they be getting? The World Health Organization (WHO), recommends 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity daily.  So what does this mean for our children and how do we meet these requirements?

According to “KidsHealth.org” There are 3 elements of exercise; these include endurance, strength and flexibility. Children naturally work on all 3 elements when they play. 

 Endurance happens when kids play tag and chase each other
 Strength results from children play on the monkey bars
 Flexibility occurs when kids practice the splits or bend down to tie their shoes.

For children to get exposure to all 3 elements; parents should encourage children to do a variety of activities.  This doesn’t mean that your child has to hit the gym to lift weights, or run on the treadmill or even join a sports team.  There are plenty of activities that children can do to meet these needs while having fun and fun is the best way for kids to exercise.  

Even experts in Youth fitness agree that children should be exposed to a wide variety of activities to ensure proper development.  According to Michael Piercy, MS, CSCS founder of “The Lab” and recognized Youth Fitness Specialist; he built a program around the belief that there are various developmental stages that children go through.  Activities should be based on the developmental stage and following this plan will ensure that your child develops to the best of their potential. 

Stages Include:

 Movement Fundamentals (2 -5 years of age) which include:
-Basic balancing, rolling and running
 Initiation and Discovery ( 6 -10 years of age) which consists of:
-Running, jumping, catching, batting,
 Athletic Formation/Development (11-14 years of age). This includes:
-Advanced eye/hand coordination, advanced spacial orientation
 Application/Specialization (15-18 years of age) in compasses:
– Skill perfection, Complex spatial awareness, balance control and body awareness
 Elite Performance (19+)

So let’s go back to basics and make sure our kids run, jump, play on the playground, ride their bikes and act like kids.  It turns out these basics are the best way for our children to get the proper amount of exercise and meet the recommended guidelines.

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