Children and Adolescents Fitness Program

Children and Adolescents Fitness Program

Lack of physical activity has led to alarming increases in overweight and obesity in children and adolescents. If you have children or are in a position to influence children, keep these guidelines in mind:

• Provide opportunities for children and adolescents to exercise every day. Minimize sedentary activities, such as watching television. Children and adolescents should aim for at least 60 minutes of moderate activity every day. Less fit kids should start with 30 minutes a day until their fitness improves and they can exercise longer.

• During family outings, choose dynamic activities. For example, go for a walk or park away from a mall and then walk to the stores.

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• For children younger than 12, emphasize skill development and fitness rather than excellence in competitive sports. For adolescents, combine participation and training in lifetime sports with traditional, competitive sports.

• Make sure children are developmentally capable of participating in an activity. For example, catching skills are difficult for young children because their nervous system is not developed enough to fully master the skill. Gradually increase the complexity of the skill once the child has mastered the simpler skill.

• Make sure children get plenty of water when exercising in the heat. Make sure they are dressed properly when exercising in the cold.

People of all ages benefit from exercise. Simply by playing actively with their children, parents can set a positive example that will lead to a lifetime of physical activity.

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