Keeping children turned on to physical activity

Keeping children and youth turned on to physical activity is one of the biggest challenges facing parents, KMC Area Physical Education teachers said recently.  
Almost half of young people aged 12 to 21 and more than a third of high school students do not participate in vigorous physical activity on a regular basis.  This inactivity is one of the biggest contributors to obesity over a lifetime.

According to the National Association for Sport and Physical Education, children’s lack of physical activity is a national crisis because physically inactive, overweight children grow up to become physically inactive, obese adults.

This month is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, and NASPE is urging parents and schools to help children explore a wide variety of physical activities to determine what they like and to encourage them to participate in those activities on a regular basis. The theme for National Sport and Physical Education Week, which is held from today to Thursday as part of National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, is “Be Active Your Way.”  

NASPE recommends schools and families incorporate at least 60 minutes of moderate physical activity into each child’s daily routine. The challenge isn’t finding enough time in the day for a child to exercise, rather, it is helping each child identify a sport or activity that he or she enjoys as much as watching television or playing computer games.

For many children under the age of 8, the problem isn’t inactivity, it is trying to slow them down.  However, children between the ages of 8 and 10 seem to choose one of two routes: the athletic way or the non-athletic way. Those who choose the athletic route play on teams, participate in dance clubs or martial arts, for example, officials said.

As children enter middle school, however, organized physical activities become limited. Thus the challenge for parents is to assist their children in finding physical activities they enjoy doing with their friends and that does not require a coach or instructor. Children need to discover what else is out there for them: riding a bike, in-line skating, dancing, golf, tennis, martial arts or going to the gym. It is important to allow them to explore these different opportunities and determine what activities they truly enjoy.

NASPE also suggests parents limit the amount of time their children spend in front of the television or computer to less than two hours a day. It is also important they see their parents having fun participating in physical activities. Children learn by example. If you enjoy and participate in physical activity, so will your children. 

(Courtesy of Ramstein High School)