Almost as soon as our children are born, we start wondering when they will be ready for the next step—old enough to talk and walk and run and read. As they grow, we want to encourage them to develop new interests, talents, skills—and muscles! These pages will help you determine your child's readiness for many popular fitness-related activities. Find out when to start new sports or activities.
Even three-year-olds can participate in strength training games and exercises. Surprised? Find out more about safe strength training for kids, from preschoolers to teens, and the many benefits that weight or resistance training can offer (when done safely).
While toddlers are not old enough to learn and perform swimming strokes, they can still benefit from swim lessons. In 2010, the American Academy of Pediatrics revised its standing on swimming lessons for kids under 4. The AAP now says that classes teaching safety, water adjustment, and swimming readiness are beneficial for these young kids.
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Readiness for this skill varies quite a bit. Some preschoolers are ready to balance and pedal their own "big-kid bike" as young as three. Some school-agers are not ready (or sometimes, not willing) to forgo training wheels until they are eight or nine. Learn more about teaching techniques that might work for your child.
Is your child old enough not just to play on a team, but to face the pressure that comes with playing to win? Very young children (under about eight, but some kids are not yet ready at this age either) should play sports for fun and fitness. As kids grow, they develop the skills and maturity for competition.
We may think of group classes, like Spinning or Zumba, as being just for adults. But kids and teens can benefit from, and enjoy, group exercise classes too. Options include classes just for kids, those designed for parent-child pairs, and grown-up classes open to all ages.
Does your child have a natural affinity or ability for running? You might be surprised to learn that you can nurture this interest from a very young age. With a preschooler, play tag and other running games in your backyard or at the park. Try fun runs and/or a running club
for kids from kindergarten on up.
Walking or biking to school (sometimes called active commuting) is a wonderful way for kids to get more physical activity. It also saves money and is healthier for the environment. But many parents worry about their kids' safety on the way to school, or other destinations like a friend's house or sports practice. Find out why 10 just might be the magic number.
Do you want to know when kids are old enough for a specific sport? Follow these links for advice on more than a dozen sports and fitness activities that have lots of kid appeal.