Keeping Your Little Ones Active

Did you know that healthy, physically active kids also are more likely to be academically motivated, alert, and successful? In addition, physical competence builds self-esteem at every age. Among the many benefits of being active, also includes getting better sleep and decreased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

If getting more exercise is part of your family’s new year’s resolutions, check out these easy tips from our Kids Health education resource, to help encourage your kids to stay active and find the right activity for them:

• Choose the right activities for a child’s age: If you don’t, your child may be bored or frustrated.
• Give 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.
• Keep the focus on fun: Kids won’t do something they don’t enjoy.

In addition to a child’s age, it’s important to consider his or her fitness personality. Personality traits, genetics, and athletic ability combine to influence kids’ attitudes toward participation in sports and other physical activities, particularly as they get older. Which of these three types best describes your child?

• The nonathlete: This child may lack athletic ability, interest in physical activity, or both.
• The casual athlete: This child is interested in being active but isn’t a star player and is at risk of getting discouraged in a competitive athletic environment.
• The athlete: This child has athletic ability, is committed to a sport or activity, and likely to ramp up practice time and intensity of competition.

If you understand the concepts of temperament and fitness types, you’ll be better able to help your kids find the right activities and get enough exercise. Some kids want to pursue excellence in a sport, while others may be perfectly happy and fit as casual participants.

Whatever their fitness personality, all kids can be physically fit. A parent’s positive attitude will help a child who’s reluctant to exercise. Be active yourself and support your kids’ interests. If you start this early enough, they’ll come to regard activity as a normal — and fun — part of your family’s everyday routine.

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