(CARLSBAD, CA) – Freeze tag, kick the can, and capture the flag…these were the games we played when we were kids. And we all turned out just fine, right? Yet, today, we find ourselves questioning and analyzing what physical activities are really appropriate for kids.
The fact that we’re paying attention to kids’ physical activity is a good sign. The lack of physical fitness in our nation’s youth is reaching epidemic proportions. Two-thirds of American children cannot pass a basic physical fitness test, according to the American Obesity Association. And the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports reports that 40 percent of these kids show early signs of heart and vascular disease.
Getting kids active is the first step toward combating obesity and its related health maladies. But, not all activities are safe and effective for all ages. Jazzercise Founder and CEO Judi Sheppard Missett suggests the following age-appropriate activities to get kids fit:
Ages 2-3 – Toddler-aged children are too young for most structured exercise programs. Yet, there are dozens of activities that can help them with gross and fine motor skills, and keep them physically active. Running, catching, and jumping are all age-appropriate activities. Supervised playground and swimming pool play are also fun ways to keep the young tots moving. As for organized classes, check your local YMCA for toddler gymnastics or a nearby yoga center for Mommy & Me sessions.
Ages 4-6 – During these preschool and early school years, kids are more likely to participate in organized games and activities, including hopscotch and tag. Playing catch, riding a bike, and jumping rope are all skills that can be developed at this age. This is also an appropriate age to enroll kids in beginning dance or Junior Jazzercise classes.
Ages 7-10 – Most kids are ready for team sports by age seven. Baseball and soccer are opportunities for kids to learn fair play and safety. But, never force a child to play a sport that the child does not want to play. If several sports are available in your area, your child may benefit from trying a variety of them. Allow your child to choose one or two sports per season.
Ages 11 and up – Organized team sports, running, biking, and track and field events are all age-appropriate for kids ages 11 and up. During these ages, kids may also begin to participate in strength-training activities. The American College of Sports Medicine and the American Academy of Physicians both advocate that kids ages 11 and up begin strength-training activities. Once thought to damage kids’ growth plates, strength-training exercises have recently been proven to protect muscles and joints from injury. Keep in mind that strength training for kids does not mean bodybuilding or lifting heavy weights to bulk up. Rather kid-friendly strength training involves exercises that increase muscle strength and endurance. Instead of lifting heavy weights, kids should use light weights or other forms of resistance, such as their own body weight, and focus on proper form.
Jazzercise, created by Judi Sheppard Missett, is the world's leading dance-fitness program with more than 7,500 instructors teaching 32,000 classes weekly in the U.S. and around the globe. Since 1969, millions of people of all ages and fitness levels have reaped the benefits of this comprehensive program, designed to enhance cardiovascular endurance, strength, and flexibility. For more information on Jazzercise go to jazzercise.com or call (800)FIT-IS-IT or (760)476-1750.