Does your child run, play, and move for at least 60 minutes a day? For school-aged kids, physical activities are (and should be) fun, but they’re also important. Kids this age need that daily hour of moderate to vigorous activity to stay fit and healthy. The time should be divided among aerobic, muscle-strengthening, and bone-strengthening activities.
Short bursts of 10 or 15 minutes count toward this daily tally, so make sure your child has lots of opportunities for physical activities before, during, and after school.
Physical Activities at School
Academics are important, but so is finding time for fitness. When kids have the chance to run and play before school and at recess, they focus more and fidget less during class. Brain breaks also help. Physical education (PE) provides another opportunity to move during the school day. It also exposes kids to new sports and games and introduces important health habits.
By early elementary school—age 6 or 7—most kids have the physical coordination and attention span, plus the ability to grasp rules, which they need to play organized sports. A few years later—between ages 10 and 12—most can handle the added pressure of team competition.
You can help your child get enough daily activity via sports and extracurricular activities if these fit your schedule. Look for classes and recreational leagues that stress fitness, skill-building, fair play, and most of all, fun.
If your child enjoys team sports, try:
• Baseball or Softball
• Soccer (indoor/outdoor)
• Flag football
If your child prefers individual pursuits, consider:
• Cross Country or participating in a running club or a 5K race
• Dance or Gymnastics
• Horseback riding
• Martial arts
Ask your child what sports he or she is interested in, and give him or her the opportunity to try many different activities. That means letting them change activities once the program/season is over and discover a different activity later if this one was not for them. You both might be surprised at what they’re good at and love to do.
Staying Active At Home
Provide kids with as much time and space to play as possible! Encourage lots of different physical activities. Mixing it up helps keep kids from getting bored, and also helps work many muscle groups. Emphasize fun and movement (not competition or “shoulds”). Try these family fitness ideas that are simple and accessible for many kids and adults:
• Walking or hiking (make it more exciting with geocaching)
• Biking or in-line skating
• Visiting a playground
• Jumping rope or spinning a hula hoop
• Playing catch or Frisbee
• Outdoor group games like tag or kickball
• Indoor dance parties
• Running in the sprinkler, spraying each other with a hose, or other water play activities
• Corn hole, horse shoe, yard darts, or any yard activities