Does Your Child Need More Activity

How much activity is needed?
Your child should get at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day of the week. But as kids get older, with increasing demands on their time, getting a full hour of exercise can become a challenge. Some kids may gravitate toward sedentary pursuits like watching TV and computer time. Even a lot of studying and reading, while important, can result in too little physical activity.

As children grow
Children often experience dilemmas when it comes to sports. Those who are athletic might end up increasing their time and commitment to sports, which is great for their physical fitness. Additionally, the more casual athletes may lose interest and decide to quit teams and leagues. Unless they find substitute activities, they will not be getting the exercise they need.

Why do children need activities?
Being active is a key component of good health for all school-age kids. It will strengthen their muscles and bones and ensure that their bodies are capable of doing normal kid stuff, like lifting a backpack or running a race. It also will help control their weight and decrease their risk of obesity related illnesses. So how do you get kids motivated to be active, especially those who aren't natural athletes?

Reasonable expectations are also important when it comes to how much kids can handle mentally. Younger kids often are not ready for the pressure of competition, nor can they grasp complex strategy. Look for teams, leagues, and classes that stress the basics and provide encouragement and praise for kids as they improve their skills. Done correctly, team sports and other group activities can teach kids a lot about teamwork and good sportsmanship.

Not into Sports
Your child can be fit even if he or she is not into the traditional sports teams. The key is finding activities your child enjoys regardless of what your aspirations are for your child. The options are many, from roller blading to bike riding to tennis, or even swimming. When kids find an activity that's fun, they'll do it a lot, get better at it, feel accomplished, and want to do it even more. Likewise, if you push them into activities they don't like, they're unlikely to want to do participate and will end up feeling frustrated.

It's all a Learning Process
Whether it's baseball or ice hockey, if your child doesn't enjoy an activity and continues to feels frustrated after giving it an honest effort it is time to switch activities. Regardless of success or failure, the child's experience with the activity is for beneficial for them. It is as valuable to help a child realize what they likes as it is to realize what they do not like. The only way to discover your natural skills and abilities is to experiment with them in many forms. 

Age-Specific Activities

Activities for Six- to Eight-Year-olds                                                    
At this age expose your children to a good variety of games and sports. Make sure they are fun for the child to do. There should be a balance of activities at school and home. At this stage children are still mastering fundamental physical skills, such as jumping, throwing, kicking, and catching. It will take a few more years before most children can combine these skills the way many 11-year-olds can (for instance, being able to scoop up a baseball, run toward the base, and throw the ball - all in one fluid motion). So if your child is on a sports team, make sure you and the coaches are setting realistic expectations

Activities for Nine- to Twelve-Year-olds
These older school-age kids usually have mastered basic skills and can start enjoying the benefits of being more coordinated. That means a kid who likes basketball isn't wildly throwing the ball at the basket anymore, but is perfecting the free throw. Kids this age are also better able to understand the rules. Parents of kids involved in team sports might want to talk about handling setbacks and losses, and remind kids that sports should still be fun even as competition heats up.

Activities for Teens
Cardiovascular exercise is perfect for teens that are independent and like variety. Some possibilities include running, in-line skating, cycling, swimming, tennis,  basketball, dancing, kick-boxing, Tae Bo, hockey, soccer, rowing, elliptical trainer, cross-country skiing, jumping rope, racquetball, handball, squash, Ice-skating, and swimming.

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