Kids Fitness: Encouraging Exercise in Your Kids (cont.)

If a child is overweight, has a medical condition, or symptoms of any type (chronic shortness of breath, for example), then a physical is "a good preventative precaution," says Occhipinti. A doctor can also check on your child's physical development and even make recommendations for activities.

And don't forget a checkup for yourself, especially if you haven't been active for awhile.

Rescuing Recess

If, along with encouraging your kids to get active at home, you want to be sure they enjoy the same prospects through school recess, get active. A few tips from IPAUSA include:

  • Talk with your child's classroom teacher to find out if, when, and how often your child has recess.
  • If you're less than pleased with the answer, coordinate with your school parent association and plan a visit to the principal to discuss recess and your concerns.
  • Finally, band together with other schools within your district and plan a community play day.

Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic

Going beyond fitness, getting active, and playing with others helps kids form relationships, negotiate social situations, solve problems, and develop tools to teach them about the strength of their own character, says's Michell Muldoon. And many, including the IPAUSA, believe play -- specifically recess -- enhances learning, meaning more academically focused kids and better grades in reading, writing and ... well, you get the idea.

But "the most important consideration," sums up Muldoon, "is that we make sure our children have a chance to experience the magic of play and the richness of a community," so that kicking a ball in the park, scrambling across the monkey bars, and rolling downhill until dizzy continue to remain child's play.

Published Oct. 25, 2004.

SOURCES: Rhonda L. Clements, president, American Association of the Child's Right to Play. Michell Muldoon, president, Mark J. Occhipinti, PhD, president, American Fitness Professionals & Associates. Rallie McAllister, MD. CDC. American Heart Association.

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Last Editorial Review: 4/18/2005 3:10:21 PM