Physical Activity for Children and Teens - Three Types of Fitness for Children
It's important for children and teens to take part in all three types of
fitness: flexibility, aerobic fitness, and muscle strengthening.
Show your children how to stretch
their muscles. Let them do stretching exercises along with you. Gently
correct their form when needed so that they learn good habits and understand
that there is a way to do stretches that makes them most effective.
2. Aerobic exercise
Children often get
aerobic activity without realizing it. Playing tag, having a squirt-gun fight,
or playing catch with friends all provide aerobic exercise. Going for hikes and
walking to the store also provide aerobic activity. Many schools and
communities have programs for soccer, T-ball, and other activities. These are
great ways for your children to get aerobic exercise and meet new
3. Muscle strengthening
Bicycling, swimming, climbing, and helping in the yard or garden are just a few
examples of activities that strengthen muscles.
Many children show an interest
in weights. When properly supervised, weight training for children is safe
and can be helpful in preparing them for sports and starting good lifetime
fitness habits. Talk to your child's doctor before your child starts a
weight-training program.2 This type of exercise is
not right for every child.
When children work with weights:
- Have an adult present who knows how to use weights.
- Be sure the children learn the proper form. If they don't, they can
hurt themselves. They also probably won't get the full benefit of exercising
with weights if their form is wrong.
- Only use machines that can adjust to each child's size.
- Be sure that children don't compete with other kids or even with their
own past efforts. This can cause them to push themselves beyond what is
- Be sure they don't move to heavier weights too quickly. The size of
the weight is not important. Children will get stronger from weight training by
doing the right number of repetitions and sets.
For more information, see the topic Fitness: Getting and Staying Active.