Youth Fitness: It’s Child’s Play

09/20/2010 at 11:54 AM Leave a comment

Team sports, while I’m absolutely a product of them, are not the be-all-end-all to the youth fitness movement. Let’s face it, most kids either don’t fit the needs of the sport or the sport and it’s peer pressure challenges don’t meet the needs of the child. We could also add in dance and martial arts, but I think that still isn’t enough. And it’s not about adult style exercise for exercise sake. Kids aren’t interested in that.
We need a paradigm shift. Kids need to feel safe from criticism and judgement, need to feel successful, and above all, need to have fun. Physical play is missing and we need to find ways to bring it back to our children. Non-competitive, feel good games remind me of the now old “New Games” movement back in the “70s, but we can update ideas to create fun movement to help keep our kids more fit. Create variations on tag, hopscotch, red light, or even obstacle courses.
I just started a kids parkour/free running class to get kids (including my own 2 boys) to run, climb, jump, hurdle, and roll with the idea of building confidence in moving and increasing their fitness levels. YEOP! (Youth Environmental Obstacle Play) We’re having a great time with it. This is just one example of one possible activity. Find what works for your children.
Another thought is that it helps to have a leader/organizer/facilitator to keep things moving and changing with the moods and attitudes of the group. While free play is great, you need to watch to see that all kids are playing, are successful, and are not feeling left out. This can happen sometimes when groups are left on their own. The make or break of a program can be the leader.
Physically playing, is a lost art, for kids, and certainly for adults. By nature, play should be fun. If we can get our youth and/or ourselves more fit while having fun, what could be better?
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Entry filed under: Fitness. Tags: , , , , , , , , .

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