The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services advises that children aged 6 to 17 engage in moderate to vigorous physical activity for at least an hour each day. This is important for their growth and development. However, parents may be unsure of the age-appropriate exercises for their kids. Here are some guidelines that can help.
3 to 5 Years Old
Experts recommend that children of this age be physically active the whole day. Regular physical exercise at this stage of their life will help in their bone development as well as help them to maintain a healthy weight as they grow.
Despite their young age, they can actually take part in some team sports, such as basketball or football, provided you don’t have overly high expectations. Majority of 5-year-old children still do not possess the coordination to handle a ball well, be it on the basketball court or the football field. However, it does not matter because sport at this age should be fun and not competitive.
Swimming is also an appropriate exercise for these children. Don’t worry that they are too young. It is safe to introduce kids to water after they are 6 months old. However, the American Red Cross, the leading water safety and instruction organization in the country, advises that parents and preschoolers undergo a basic course in water safety first before these children start formal swimming lessons.
At the age of 4 to 5, children are old enough to learn floating, breath control and basic swimming strokes.
6 to 8 Years Old
By age 6, children will have the coordination to pass a basketball or soccer ball. They will also be able to learn how to ride a bicycle without the training wheels and execute a gymnastics routine.
This is the best time to introduce them to a variety of sports and athletic activities. Different types of sports will affect children’s growth plates differently. Having diversity in the physical activities that they engage in will help to ensure their healthy bone development. When kids only play one sport continuously season after season, they will be prone to overuse injuries, such as stress fractures.
9 to 11 Years Old
This is the age where kids develop good hand-eye coordination. Many kids of this age will be able to successfully throw and catch a baseball and hit a golf or tennis ball. At this stage, it is okay to encourage them to be more competitive so long as they understand how to be a good sport.
If the kids want to, it is alright for them to take part in long distance races or short triathlons, provided they have adequate training.
12 to 14 Years Old
Some kids of this age may become interested in strength-training and muscle-building exercises. However, it is not recommended for them to lift heavy weight before they enter puberty.
Children are most likely to get injured during periods of growth spurts in their early teenage years. They may sustain serious injuries if they lift overly heavy weights.
There are other safer options to build strength without endangering the bines and joints. For instance, they can do bodyweight exercises, like squats and pushups.
15 Years and older
If your teenager has gone through puberty and wants to start lifting weights. It is best to have them go for a weight-training class with a professional to learn the proper forms. Incorrect forms can cause serious injuries, like torn muscles or fractures.
You can also let them join endurance events such as marathons or triathlons without worry, so long as they meet the age requirement.
Children are active by nature. If you encourage it from an early age, you will be instilling in them good fitness habits that will stay with them their whole lives.