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Ask an Expert - Noncompetitive Activities

Sports are so competitive. I'm trying to find some noncompetitive activities for my son to encourage him to be active throughout his life. Do you have any ideas?

Kristen Hetland, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Health, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences, NDSU

That is a great question! Competitive activities do have benefits for some (not all) children; however, not every child enjoys competitive activities. Whether a competitive or noncompetitive activity, helping children develop, improve and refine gross motor skills, physical strength, social skills and self-esteem is important.

Teaching a lasting set of life skills and activities is more likely to influence children later in life. Some general lifelong activities include, but are not limited to, biking, hiking, kayaking, canoeing, swimming, archery, karate, running, walking, in-line skating, paintball, fishing, horseback riding, youth camps developed by fitness facilities, resistance training and group fitness classes (for example, yoga, kickboxing, aerobics, Pilates).

Another activity that is increasing in popularity is called Geocaching (pronounced: geo-cashing). According to the official Web site, Geocaching is a high-tech treasure hunting game played throughout the world by adventure seekers equipped with global positioning system devices. The basic idea is to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, outdoors and then share your experiences online. Geocaching is enjoyed by people from all age groups, with a strong sense of community and support for the environment. For more information on Geocaching, visit the official Web site,

Regardless of the activity, research shows that active children are more likely to be active adults; therefore, getting kids active early in life is imperative.

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