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    Fitness and Your 6 to 12 Year Old

    Kids this age need physical activity to build strength, coordination, and confidence — and to lay the groundwork for a healthy lifestyle. They’re also gaining more control over how active they are.

    School-age kids should have many chances to participate in a variety of activities, sports, and games that fit for their personality, ability, age, and interests. Brainstorm with your kids on activities that feel right. Most kids won’t mind a daily dose of fitness as long as it’s fun.

    Physical activity guidelines for school-age kids recommend that each day they:

    • get 1 hour or more of moderate and vigorous physical activity on most or all days
    • participate in several bouts of physical activity of 15 minutes or more each day
    • avoid periods of inactivity of 2 hours or more unless sleeping

    Fitness at Home
    Many parents and kids think of organized sports when they think of fitness. Though there are many advantages to signing a child up for the softball team, practice and games once or twice a week will not be enough to reach activity goals. Also, parents can no longer rely on physical education in schools to provide enough physical activity for kids.

    Here are some ways to keep your kids moving at home:

    • Make physical activity part of the daily routine. From household chores to an after-dinner walk, keep your family active every day.
    • Allow enough time for free play. Kids can burn more calories and have more fun when left to their own devices. Playing football, running around the neighborhood, and building crafts are fun and healthy.
    • Keep a variety of games and sports equipment on hand. It doesn’t have to be expensive — an assortment of balls, hula-hoops, and jump ropes can keep kids busy for hours.
    • Be active together. It’ll get you moving, and kids love to play with their parents.
    • If you run out of possibilities at home, take advantage of local playgrounds and athletic fields. Make family fitness outings part of your regular routine. Let family members choose an activity — go hiking, ice skating, or try out the rock-climbing gym. Anything goes, as long as everyone can participate.

    And remember: You’ll help show your kids that exercise is important by regularly exercising yourself.

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