The number of overweight and inactive youth is growing. With more access to technology, kids find it too easy to hang out indoors on the couch. PE and recess seem to be decreasing, whereas handheld games and kid-friendly tablets are increasing. We can intervene, and we should. We can help our youth, our future, become more active. Exercise can be fun, supply energy, boost confidence and increase strength. Encouraging kids to develop healthy habits will help them make a lifetime of better choices.
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It is a good idea to start with a trained fitness professional that has experience in youth fitness. Proper form is a key to success and avoiding injury. Kids should always warm up before starting their workout. Cardiovascular activity and body-weight exercises, such as push-ups and planks, are great for kids. Resistance tubing is another alternative to help kids build strength, because kids don't need to be lifting heavy weights. Be sure to supervise your child's training sessions. They shouldn't go at it alone.
Cardiovascular training is an important component of kids' fitness, keeping their heart and lungs strong. Kids need to run around, whether they are in a running club or just playing tag. Get them outside and make them move. The options are endless, including a backyard obstacle course, team sports, freeze tag, swimming, free play and more. Young athletes may also enjoy conditioning programs geared toward specific sports. Most importantly, kids need to be active for at least one hour per day.
To increase their strength, kids need to push against resistance. Push-ups, pull-ups and planks are excellent options. These can be done anywhere, without equipment, and can be fun. Proper form is important. Resistance tubing is a great alternative as well. Kids can do seated rows, bicep curls, overhead presses, and partner exercises, which add fun. Resistance training should be done on alternate days, two to three times per week. Kids can work up to 10 to 12 repetitions of each exercise, maintaining proper form and technique throughout the exercises.
Stretching is good to finish with. Encourage gentle stretching, without bouncing during the movement. Key principles: kids should have fun while practicing proper form and only using light resistance, if any, to keep the program safe. Try having them exercise with friends or family to add motivation. This can turn into a game or competition for variety. Kids should enjoy fitness and want to be strong and healthy for a lifetime. Give them encouragement, support and lots of cheers!