Some kids naturally excel in gym
class and on the playing field — and some don’t. But your child doesn’t need to
be an athlete to develop a love of physical activity, and that’s an important
message to emphasize if you want to build lifelong healthy habits.
“Don’t confuse activity with athlete,” recommends Ellen Houston, an exercise physiologist with the UW Health Pediatric Fitness Clinic. “Sports aren’t for everyone, and that’s OK.”
For thousands of years, humans have recognized the soul-calming effect of time spent in nature. But between the lure of screen time and frenzied schedules packed with organized sports and other activities, it can be difficult to get kids outside to just be.
Only 51 percent of preschool kids go out outside once a day to walk or play, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, which recommends outdoor playtime in its recent report titled “The Power of Play.” Even short periods of outdoor time can help kids get more active, reduce anxiety, improve mood and concentration, and sleep better at night.
For the last 15 years, I’ve worked with school-age children from elementary school through high school as a special education assistant, track and cross country coach and exercise physiologist in the Pediatric Fitness Clinic. During this time, exercise has been my “go to” tool for handling behavioral, performance and medical concerns. It’s obvious that the need for exercise is universal (emotional, physical, and psychological health). However, approaching your child with the type of activity they are drawn to varies based on their personality. It seems as if certain “Fitness Personalities” occur time and time again. Knowing your child’s personality may help you find the right activity for your child that feels natural, is rewarding and fun.