As younger children grow into adolescence, their activity patterns mature. They are more likely to participate in organized and competitive sports and can maintain activity for longer periods of time. Adults continue to play a significant role in supporting their children’s physical activity, whether through participation or encouragement.
Children ages 6 to 17 should engage in an hour of moderate to vigorous activity every day in three categories: aerobic, strengthening and bone-building.
Aerobic activities include running, swimming, bicycling, rope-jumping and organized sports like soccer and basketball. Typically, aerobic activities are long in duration, although short, repeated bursts of activity are valuable, as well, both in increasing cardiovascular fitness and in building stamina.
Strengthening activities build muscle mass and can be unstructured (such as using playground equipment or climbing a tree) or structured (such as weightlifting with supervision and appropriate equipment).
Bone-building activities are critical at this age. Certain forces promote bone growth and bone strength and typically include impact. Running, jumping and sports like basketball, tennis and soccer all develop bones as well as muscle while offering aerobic benefits. It’s important to note that bone mass starts really building during the years around puberty, and most of the bone mass you’ll live with forever is built by the end of adolescence.
For more information, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has good guidelines surrounding physical activity in children.
Diet goes hand in hand with physical activity. As with exercise, eating habits developed at age 3 will most likely persist throughout an individual’s life.
Start your kids on the best lifestyle path when they are young, encourage them to continue as they grow and mature, and hopefully, they’ll be there to care for you in your old age.
For more information, please visit mercy.net/laduenews.
Dr. Joseph Kahn is president of Mercy Kids (mercykids.org), an expansive network of pediatric care dedicated to meeting the needs of every child, every day.