NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County

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Moving It for Kids

Moving It for Kids

 

          Anyone who's seen kids on a playground knows that most are naturally physically active and love to move around. But what might not be apparent is that climbing to the top of a slide or swinging from the monkey bars can help lead kids to a lifetime of being active.

          Physical activity is important for all ages of humans for good physical and mental health, as well as a healthy body weight. Physical activity reduces the risk for certain cancers, diabetes and high blood pressure, and contributes to healthy bones and muscles. It is also important for children’s growth and development.    The benefits of physical activity are not just related to reducing risk for chronic disease and helping maintain a healthy weight. Physical activity has also been shown to have positive effects on learning. Evidence suggests that students in elementary through high school perform better academically when they are physically active.    

          American Heart Association (AHA) Recommendation is that all children age 2 and older should participate in at least 60 minutes of enjoyable, moderate-intensity physical activities every day that are developmentally appropriate and varied. The physical activity does not have to occur at one time. It can occur in several 10-15 minute sessions throughout the day.

          Focus on play and enjoyment for you and your family.

  • Plan to be more active – establish physical activity as a routine part of everyday life for all family members
  • Make it fun
  • Try different activities
  • Learn about and use public facilities and community programs for physical activity in your area
  • Encourage active play instead of TV and video games
  • Choose activities you can enjoy for a lifetime

          Although there are no sure-fire recipes for good health, the mixture of healthy eating and regular exercise comes awfully close.

          As they get older, it can be a challenge for kids to get enough daily activity. Reasons include increasing demands of school, a feeling among some kids that they aren't good at sports, a lack of active role models, and busy working families.

          And even if kids have the time and the desire to be active, parents may not feel comfortable letting them freely roam the neighborhood as kids did generations ago. So their opportunities might be limited. In spite of these barriers, parents can instill a love of activity and help kids fit it into their everyday lives. Doing so can set healthy patterns that will last into adulthood.

          So there's a lot to gain from regular physical activity, but how do you encourage kids to do it? The three keys are:

  • Choosing the right activities for a child's age: If you don't, the child may be bored or frustrated.
  • Giving kids plenty of opportunity to be active: Kids need parents to make activity easy by providing equipment and taking them to playgrounds and other active spots.
  • Keeping the focus on fun: Kids won't do something they don't enjoy.

          When kids enjoy an activity, they want to do more of it. Practicing a skill — whether it's swimming or riding a tricycle — improves their abilities and helps them feel accomplished, especially when the effort is noticed and praised. These good feelings often make kids want to continue the activity and even try others.

                   

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