At what age should children start exercising?

It appears that children have an endless supply of energy, which begs the question: when is it appropriate for children to begin exercising? Aside from sports, swimming, and running around, it’s a good idea to introduce more physical activity to children, depending on their age. Exercising will benefit them in the long run by improving motor skills and muscles and lowering the risk of developing overuse injuries. Not to mention that exercising at a younger age may foster a love of physical activity in children. However, the needs of children of various ages vary. Let’s talk about what’s appropriate for each age group.

Ages 3-5

Physical activity should be encouraged for children aged 3 to 5. Regular physical activity will improve bone health and set the stage for them to maintain a healthy weight as they grow. Children of this age can participate in team sports such as soccer or basketball. Just keep your expectations in check. At this age, any sport should be about having fun rather than competing. Most 5-year-olds lack the coordination required to hit a ball, which is understandable. Swimming is another healthy option for this age group.

Ages 6-8

By the age of six, children have matured enough to hit a pitched baseball or pass a soccer ball. They can also participate in sports such as gymnastics and biking. These are the ideal ages to introduce them to a variety of athletic activities. Just keep in mind that different sports challenge growth in different ways, so a variety of sports promotes overall healthy development. Overuse injuries are common when children play the same sport season after season, so variety is essential.

Ages 9-11

Hand-eye coordination really kicks in at this point. Children will be able to hit and throw a baseball with accuracy. It is acceptable to encourage competition as long as winning is not the only goal. It is safe for children to participate in events such as short triathlons or distance running races as long as they have trained for the event and stay hydrated.

Ages 12-14

When children reach adolescence, they may lose interest in organized sports. They may prefer to concentrate on strength or muscle-building exercises. However, lifting heavy weights is not recommended unless your child has already reached puberty. Stretchy tubes, bands, and body-weight exercises like push-ups and squats are healthier alternatives. These will help them gain strength while protecting their bones and joints while they are still growing. In fact, children are most vulnerable to injury during growth spurts in their early adolescence. Lifting too much weight or using improper form while throwing a ball or running can result in serious injuries.

Ages 15+

Once your teen has completed puberty and is ready to lift weights, encourage them to take a class or a few sessions with an expert to develop proper form and avoid future injuries. There’s no reason to say no if your adolescent wants to participate in endurance events like triathlons. The most important thing to remember is that proper training is equally important for teens and their parents. Monitor their nutrition and hydration as well.

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