Fitness for kids
It’s never too early to encourage a love of physical activity in kids by exposing them to fun fitness activities and sports. Doctors say that participating in different activities develops motor skills and muscles and reduces the risk of developing overuse injuries.
In the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)Trusted Source recommends children and adolescents ages 6 to 17 get at least one hour of moderate to high-intensity aerobic exercise every day. Strength-training activities that build muscle should also be part of a 60-minute exercise routine on at least three days of the week.
This may seem like a lot, but it’s easy to see how the minutes can add up when you consider all of the running and playing an active child does on a daily basis. Here are some guidelines to help you choose age-appropriate fitness activities for your kids.
Ages 3 to 5
It’s recommended that children ages 3 to 5 be physically active throughout the day. Regular activity can help improve bone health and start patterns to keep them at a healthy weight as they grow.
Preschoolers can play team sports, like soccer, basketball, or T-ball, as long as your expectations are realistic. Any sport at this age should be about play, not competition. Most 5-year-old children aren’t coordinated enough to hit a pitched ball and don’t have true ball-handling skills on the soccer field or basketball court.
Swimming is another healthy way to encourage your child to be active. It’s fine to introduce kids to water safety between 6 months and 3 years old. The American Red Cross, the country’s leading water safety and instruction organization, recommends that preschoolers and their parents first enroll in a basic course.
These classes usually teach blowing bubbles and underwater exploration before starting formal swimming lessons. Children are ready to learn breath control, floating, and basic strokes at about age 4 or 5.