By James Miller for The Gazette
As the parent of a one-year-old, I started thinking about what sports she’ll want to play when she’s older. Dance? Soccer? Struggle?”
I dread thinking about doing lots of training and competition for some of these sports. Then I remember my own childhood and realize that my parents used to spend hours sitting in a gym, on the side of the field, and training me to be the best in any sport I wanted. chose to try. My parents knew that physical activity is good for children.
You may have heard from your child’s health care provider about the goal of providing children with one hour of daily activity. In fact, research has shown that getting one hour of physical activity a day during childhood reduces the risk of developing chronic diseases in adulthood.
Nearly 66% of American adults take medication for high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke or heart disease. The risk of developing these diseases can be significantly reduced by participating in moderate to vigorous physical activity for one hour a day, starting at an early age.
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One of the easiest ways to get your kids to be physically active for an hour a day is to get them started at a young age in a sport or other activity. The sooner they get involved, the sooner they will learn their likes and dislikes.
Swimming, soccer, wrestling, gymnastics, dance and martial arts get kids involved from an early age. If they develop a passion for a sport, they are committed and will strive to excel. They also develop lifelong friendships.
As they enter middle school and high school, sports become much more competitive and require dedication and practice to form varsity teams. Children who engage in sport engage in regular physical activity.
Family time is another great way to get your child moving. Biking, going to the park, walking around the neighborhood, or exploring local trails are great options for getting active together.
Your children are more likely to participate in healthy activities if you are a role model. Children are encouraged when they see their parents exercising.
Encourage your children to participate in physical education classes or other physical activities, such as weightlifting classes, through their school. If your child doesn’t attend fitness classes at school or is homeschooled, look for other activity options. Parents can help children get a gym membership where they can be trained through activities. You can also create an age-appropriate exercise routine or individualized fitness program based on your child’s interests and schedule.
Nearly half of all American adults have one or more preventable chronic diseases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of the 10 most common chronic diseases, seven can be “favorably influenced by regular physical activity,” reports the CDC. Knowing this, I will encourage my daughter to participate in all activities that will get her moving.
If you’re not sure what activities are appropriate for your child’s age, ask your child’s health care provider for recommendations.
Physician Assistant James Miller cares for children at clinics at RiverStone Health School at Orchard Elementary School and Medicine Crow Middle School. He also works for RiverStone Health’s Pediatric Behavioral Health and Child Home program. He can be reached at 406-247-3210.