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Experts recommend children get at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity on most days to maintain good health and fitness and for healthy weight during growth.

Your child doesn’t have to belong to a sports team to become fit, either. Competitive or team sports aren’t for everyone. What’s important is that your child is active in some way.

Physical activities that a child can take on to adulthood include bicycling, running, hiking or the martial arts. Before encouraging your child to begin a new sports or fitness program, however, make sure he or she has a physical exam. The doctor will look for any previously undiagnosed medical problems, or hearing or vision problems that would make participating in sports more difficult. Also keep in mind your child’s physical abilities. As kids grow older, they develop more sophisticated skills, so any activity should be age-appropriate.

Fort HealthCare recommends the “5-3-2-1-Almost None” model for children’s wellness:

  • 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables daily.
  • 3 structured meals daily – eat breakfast, less fast food, and more meals prepared at home.
  • 2 hours or less of TV or video games daily.
  • 1 hour or more of moderate to vigorous physical activity daily.
  • Almost None – Limit sugar-sweetened drinks to “almost none.”

Some additional ways to help your kids become more active:

  • Exercise regularly yourself – or better yet, exercise with your kids. Emphasize that physical activity is a key part of every day.
  • Remember that activity doesn’t have to be sports-related or fun. Mowing the lawn, weeding, taking out the garbage, housecleaning, washing the car and other productive activities get the heart and lungs working and burn calories.
  • Limit fast foods to a once-a-week treat, or eliminate them entirely

No matter what physical activity your child takes part in, make safety a part of it. Your child should wear a helmet, when appropriate, and encourage your child to warm up before starting a vigorous sport or activity and cool down by stretching afterward to prevent injury. Also, your child should wear sunscreen when outdoors, even on cloudy days.