Preschool Exercise

What does the American Academy of Pediatricians say about preschoolers and physical exercise?

For preschoolers and children under the age of 5, fitness is an important issue that has received very little attention until now. Why is this?

1. Parents erroneously believe that preschoolers are sufficiently physically active, so little attention is given to developing fitness routines for small children.

2. Some parents believe that physical activity can injure the cardiovascular system of a young child. There is no medical evidence to back up this notion.

3. Parents have also been known to believe that physical exercise may stunt the growth of a young child. There is no credible medical research to back this up either!

So, what is a parent to do?

Remember that preschoolers look to their parents for models of lifestyle behaviors. These precious young ones may already be starting to form their fitness behaviors based on what their parents are showing and teaching them about fitness. Parents, therefore, should be actively engaging in the promotion of positive attitudes towards physical fitness.

How can parents do this?

· If your preschooler is already becoming a couch potato or a technoslouch and spends hours in front of the TV or playing computer and/or video games, try to interest your child in active forms of play. Focus on activities that burn calories. Limit TV viewing! Join in and play with your child!

· As a parent, you can make high nutrition/low-fat snacks the standard in your home. Forget the artificial sweets! Offer your child fruits and vegetables to snack on in between meals.

· Take your child outdoors and turn him/her loose. Outdoors, the opportunities for burning up calories are limitless.

Here are some more suggestions, based on the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics, to help in the planning your preschooler's physical fitness training regiment:

1.A preschooler should engage in regular physical activity. This activity should be age-appropriate and geared for the child's physical development level and health condition.

Physical activity should be promoted as part of a healthy lifestyle. It should not be used to prepare a preschooler for a career in sports!

2.Free play should the first focus. Free play that is carefully planned to provide chances for the preschooler to acquire and fine-tune basic motor skills and to reach his or her capacity at his or her own speed is better than organized play for a preschooler.

3.Don't push organized sports. Most children are neither ready nor interested in organized sports, until at least the age of six. Organized sports should be for the child"˜s enjoyment and development, not the parent"˜s dream of bringing up a sports superstar.

Focus on fun and socialization. In planned sports programs, objectives of involvement and fun should be accentuated, not those of rivalry and winning. Adults who are well trained or well informed as to the special needs and restrictions of preschool children should organize play. Location, plans, guidelines, and equipment should be organized with the preschooler"˜s needs and restrictions in mind.

4.Doctor knows best. Pediatricians should evaluate the young child's exercise level and sedentary activity level. Parents should discuss the amount of time their preschooler spends watching TV., or engaged in other sedentary activities, versus the amount of time their preschooler spends in active play with their child's pediatrician. The pediatrician should promote appropriate physical activity for the preschooler by counseling parents, teachers, and coaches.

5.Exercise and play together. Parents should serve as role models for their children by participating in regular physical exercise programs themselves. In addition, parents should engage in physical activities with their preschoolers. Your child will be more willing to engage in active exercise, if you do.

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