Physical Fitness for Children:
Active Bodies = Focused Minds and Happy Spirits!

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Kids need exercise just as much as adults do, and regular physical activity can help prevent onset of lifestyle diseases later in life. Physical fitness for children is beneficial on many levels and parents will be thankful as the positive effects of regular exercise start to show.

It is especially important to start kids off at an early age with good exercise habits and fitness education, as this will help them continue to stay active into adulthood.

Did you know that "about three out of four children ages 5 to 10 get less than one hour of physical activity daily," according to in April 2011? The American Heart Association recommends that children get a minimum of 60 minutes of exercise each day. More than an hour may be even better for many kids! You can help by providing outlets for physical fitness for children.

The Right Environment for Physical Activity

Kids tend to be naturally active if the right environment is provided. Since the rates of child obesity are so high, it is increasingly necessary to provide children with outlets for exercise and movement.

One of the reasons child obesity rates are higher than ever is that many modern technologies promote a sedentary lifestyle and offer enticing entertainment options, even or especially for children.

Where previous generations found the majority of their entertainment outdoors and engaged in physical activity, today's generations are increasingly hypnotized by the instantly gratifying and often addictive pull of cyberspace.

Video games, TV, the Internet, and mobile devices are a few of the major examples of what kids are spending much of their time on. These activities require that their bodies be sedentary, and habits can be quickly formed at a young age.

As a parent or teacher, it is important to notice this tendency and limit sedentary types of activities for children and follow through with setting these limits.

As an alternative, parents can provide space and environments that foster varied and gratifying ways for kids to move their bodies, and this will prompt kids to play and entertain themselves in habitually more active ways.

A reward system may also help. For example, for every 2-3 hours a child plays outside or participates in a physical activity or sport, perhaps they will be allowed 30 minutes of television or video games.

Types of Physical Fitness for Children

Activities should appeal to the child and it can be good to get your child involved in the choice of activity, or ask him or her to make a list or schedule of things to do.

A good set of criteria for a child's physical activity is that it is either aerobic and/or builds bone or muscle strength. Some such activities might be

  • A family hike or bike ride
  • Soccer or basketball
  • Jungle-gym play
  • Gymnastics
  • Rock-wall climbing
  • Boogie boarding
  • Swimming

There are so many ways to get kids active and involved in the decision process, and enrolling them in classes or sports may also be a great approach!

Benefits of Physical Fitness for Children

Getting kids active and helping them stay that way is an important factor in disease prevention, such as diabetes and some kinds of cancer. Exercise also helps elevate overall mood, such that it may have a positive impact on personality and self-esteem development. Fitness for kids also

  • Increases cognition and focus
  • Helps control weight
  • Benefits sleep patterns
  • Reduces risks for high cholesterol and high blood pressure
  • Reduces tension and anxiety
  • Restores calm
  • Centers the mind and body

Setting an Example

Children follow the example parents and teachers set. Exposing kids to many different outlets for physical activity and showing them that the adults in their lives live what they teach and encourage, will help kids integrate health and exercise into their value systems and create a habit of it.

Help to get your children to ride their bikes to their destinations, walk the dog to the park or beach, take a karate or kick-boxing class, or have a series of swimming races with a buddy in the pool. Encourage them to get creative! The more physical activity your kids are exposed to, the more their brains and bodies will crave this type of energy outlet.

The benefits of physical fitness for children will follow them throughout their lives if the habit of activity is encouraged and the right environment is provided consistently!

"Anyone up for a jumping jack and push-up tournament?"

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