Physical activity has many health benefits for children.
Playing and staying active may seem like a normal part of childhood. But in the United States, childhood obesity is on the rise, in part because too many kids don’t get the physical activity they need. Staying active helps children maintain a healthy weight, develop strong bones, boost their emotional well-being, and stay focused in school. Here are some ways to help the kids in your life get the benefits of physical activity.
Before signing a child up for a team sport or other regimented activity, keep these tips in mind:
Choose the right activity for a child’s age. Preschoolers should do activities that are part of normal play, since they lack the motor skills for more complex sports. Encourage them to do such things as:
- Ride a tricycle
- Toss or kick a ball
- Play tag
- Have children two years and older participate in 60 minutes of varied, moderate physical activity every day, with the activities appropriate for their age.
- Choose activities that are fun.
- When possible, do the activities as a family.
- Set a good example by staying physically active yourself.
Understand Your Child
For some older kids who are athletically inclined, playing a school or recreational team sport will come naturally. They will seek out the activities they excel at and that excite them. But other children are not interested in team sports. Encourage them to take part in individual pursuits, such as:
- Martial arts
- Inline skating
Try a Range of Activities
Staying active doesn’t necessarily mean playing a sport or doing exercise. Some easy ways to build activity into a child’s life include:
- Walking or cycling to local stores or friends’ houses
- Doing chores around the house
- Visiting attractions that encourage walking, such as zoos and national parks
- Going to local playgrounds
- Playing miniature golf
Encouraging children to become active when they’re young sets a healty pattern that can last a lifetime. But even with plenty of exercise and a good diet, kids can need medical care—and the Pediatrics Department at Sparks Regional Medical Center is ready to help. If you need a pediatrician, call us at (479) 709-3627.