Frequent Questions and Concerns about Kids' Sports and Fitness
How much exercise do kids need to receive physical health benefits?
Kids ages 6 and older should exercise 60 minutes or more every day, says the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.1 Most of the time, experts say kids should be engaging in moderate or vigorous aerobic physical activity.2 They also need to be doing muscle- and bone-strengthening activities.3 The American Heart Association recommends that, starting at age 2, children should participate in 30 minutes of daily physical activity that is age appropriate, full of variety, and enjoyable.4
What’s the best type of kids’ physical activity?
Kids’ physical activity needs consist of three types of exercises: aerobic, muscle-strengthening, and bone-strengthening.5
How do children’s sports affect their parents?
Kids aren’t the only ones who experience the benefits of sports. So do their parents. A Purdue University study found that parents of kids involved in team children’s sports have better time management skills, better communication between parenting partners, and better relationship-building with other adults.6 “I don’t think it’s terribly surprising that parents connect with one another, but what was surprising is the intensity of that connection,” says Alan Smith, associate professor of health and kinesiology. “Many view themselves differently, as well as their children differently, after exposure to youth sports.”^7^
What if sports become too demanding?
Some kids’ sports demand a lot of time, money, and energy. Some sports may start out with smaller commitments but then expand greatly once kids hit a certain level. Notice how your child reacts to the demands. Is your child excited and engaged? Or does she complain and want to quit after every practice? It takes awhile for all kids to move from a smaller to a bigger commitment, but you can usually tell if your child is growing from the experience or shutting down. It’s important for kids to determine where they want to put their energy to master skills and become more proficient. If the commitment is becoming too significant, and your child is no longer enjoying or experiencing the benefits of that sport, you may want to reconsider your child’s involvement in the activity.
1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2008): 15-20.
4. American Heart Association, Exercise (Physical Activity) and Children, downloaded from. http://www.americanheart/org/print_presenter.jhtml?identifer=4596.
5. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 15-20.
6. Purdue University, “Children Are Not the Only Ones in the Game when It Comes to Sports,” news release, August 31, 2009.