Youth Fitness plays a very important role in the physical development of children. The percentage of children that are considered unfit and/or obese by clinical terms is staggering. The childhood obesity rate has tripled in the last 30 years. Living an active lifestyle and developing healthy eating habits at an early age will help create healthy, fit children.
It is our role as parents, teachers and coaches to promote the Student Athlete, Youth Fitness and a healthy lifestyle. It is important to teach children and young adults the benefits of exercise and leading an active life. In my opinion the number one way to tackle this problem, is to lead by example. To tell a child to go out and play while you are watching TV is not sending the right message. Leading an active lifestyle as a family can be fun, healthy and rewarding.
Often the Coach-Athlete relationship is underestimated. A good coach can be one of the most important influences to a youth athlete. Youth Sports have become increasingly competitive over the years. Creating an environment that is positive, can help the youth athlete become self motivated and driven to reach certain goals.
This passion and enjoyment for fitness should start at home at an early age. As adults we are all responsible for promoting youth fitness, to educate our children and teenagers on the benefits of leading a healthy active lifestyle.
Some ideas to keep a child Active:
Teach them a new sport
Go for a hike, walk
Family bike ride
Enroll your child in a martial arts program
Join a local YMCA or Boys and Girls club
Sample Youth Exercises
In addition to regular daily activity and
children should also be introduced to regular exercise. Most children can safely train using body weight exercises to increase speed, strength and flexibility. Consult with a trainer or doctor before introducing increased resistance exercises. Below is a list of common body weight exercises that can be extremely effective to the youth athlete.
You know it’s important to help your kids develop the exercise habit so they can grow to be healthy, active adults.
So, if your children have expressed an interest in running or a desire to participate in a race or two, don’t discourage them! Running is a great natural sport that requires very little equipment and is a great way to promote Youth Fitness.
The important thing is to let them determine their own pace and to run only if it’s fun and enjoyable.
A Few Precautions Before Getting Started
Check with a physician to rule out any physical limitations that may prevent your child from participating in a running program. Keep in mind that children’s bodies, although young and energetic, are not capable of performing at the same level as an adult’s.
For example, kids are more sensitive to heat, so it is essential that they drink plenty of water and avoid running in the heat of the day. “Children have a higher body mass to skin surface ratio and may not be able to dissipate heat as well as adults,” says Dr. Gabe Mirkin, a board-certified specialist in sports medicine and pediatrics.
As muscles begin to heat up, it is okay to begin running. Also, show them how to stretch their calves, hip flexors and hamstrings after cooling down at the end of each run.
Although most believe being a multisport athlete is best, more and more children are becoming focused and training for one sport year round. The youth competition in all sports has become amazing. The talent and skill level is quite impressive. The key is to focus on activity and athleticism in the early ages and to promote a variety of sports and activities. This produces a well rounded "athlete", who can later have choices on which sports to focus his or her time on.