Saturday, August 7, 2010

3 Steps to a Stronger, Fitter, Healthier Kid

Active children are happier, healthier, even smarter. Parenting School Years magazine, May 2010 issue, began a three month get fit series with a quiz to assess how strong and healthy your child already is (try it at Below are 3 steps to a stronger, fitter, and healthier kid recommended by Julie Stefko, project manager for Fitnessgram/NFL Play 60, a program developed by the Cooper Institute in Dallas, TX that assesses fitness levels and promotes physical activity in school-age kids.

Step 1: Make it fun!
"The absolute best way to encourage kids to be physically active is not only to set an example yourself but to find ways to make it enjoyable so it doesn't feel like work," says Julie Stefko. Find sports, games, and activities your kid likes. (Some examples are bike riding, skateboarding, tag, dancing, fencing, etc) If it's something you can do together, even better.

Step 2: Boost stamina
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that kids get at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity on all or most days of the week. Several studies, however, have found that child get only half that much or less. (Don't count on your kid getting it it later on in PE. A Cornell University study found that high-schoolers are active for only 16 minutes during gym class.

Step 3: Build strength
When kids build muscle, they build bones and this is the time in their lives when bone develops most rapidly and easily. "Effective strength exercise for kids are those that use their own body weight as resistance, although adolescents can start to use dumbbells and machines," says Stefko.


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