Sixty minutes — that's how much physical activity kids should get each day. But as kids get older, increasing demands on their time can make getting a full hour of exercise a challenge. And some kids get caught up in sedentary pursuits like watching TV and surfing the Internet. Even doing a lot of studying and reading, while important, can contribute to inadequate physical activity.
Meanwhile, during these years kids often come to a fork in the road with sports. Those who are athletic might end up increasing their time and commitment to sports, which is great for their physical fitness. But more casual athletes may lose interest and decide to quit teams and leagues. Unless they find replacement activities, their physical activity levels can go way down.
But 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 chronic illnesses, such as high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.
So how do you get kids motivated to be active, especially those who aren't natural athletes?
Kids can be fit even if they're not winning sports trophies. The key is finding activities they enjoy. The options are many — from inline skating and bike riding to tennis and 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 they're pushed into activities they don't like, they're unlikely to want to participate and will end up feeling frustrated.