Kids Health

Kids-health is a site packed with hints and tips to keep you and the family healthy.

What is Fitness?

Stretching for fitness

Most kids know that fitness is important for health. The grown-ups are always banging on about it after all aren’t they? Just as you’ve settled down to a great computer game dad says ‘Get off that Playstation’ after only 3 minutes. When you’re lying in bed on a Saturday reading a comic, mum chases you up and asks if you would like to go out to play with your pals (well she asks, but it’s not a question, it’s more like an order). Then the teachers make you leave your cosy classroom for a run around on the soggy, blustery playground in the depths of winter, thinking you actually enjoy being frozen half to death in the name of fitness. But have you ever asked exactly what is fitness?

Three parts to fitness

  • Aerobic fitness (can be called stamina or endurance). This is your body’s ability to keep exercising for long periods of time. It is all related to the way in which you use oxygen and stored energy in your muscles to keep moving. Long distance runners, swimmers or cyclists have good aerobic fitness and can endure long periods of exercise before they get tired. You can improve your aerobic fitness by fast walking, jogging, swimming, cycling or dancing. In fact, anything that lasts for 20 minutes or more and gets you out of breath or sweaty is great for aerobic fitness.
  • Anaerobic fitness (can be called strength). This is how strong your muscles are. You have probably had a go at swinging on the monkey bars, climbing a rope or a tree or pedalling up a really steep hill. Even sprinting or jumping require quick bursts of energy that come from strong muscles. If you want to improve your strength, try climbing, sprinting, jumping or throwing. Don’t bother lifting weights at your age – leave that to the grown-ups.
  • Flexibility. This is how bendy you are. As you get older, your body loses some flexibility and stretching round to scratch your back, touch your toes or even stretching up to reach high objects can become difficult. Keep flexible by stretching out your body gently. Choose exercises such as child yoga or dancing and definitely stretch before and after any sort of exercise to improve your flexibility and avoid injuries.

How much exercise will keep you fit?

Fitness bigwigs recommend you do at least 1 hour of exercise every day, and that this needs to be a mix of vigorous activities and less vigorous. On three days a week, these activities should involve muscle-strengthening, such as climbing, and bone-strengthening activities, such running. Many vigorous aerobic activities can help with muscle and bone strength too such as running, skipping, gymnastics, martial arts and football. 

There is an exellent poster produced by the NHS that explains how much and what types of exercise you can do to keep tip top fit. You can view it below.

Fitness Activities For Children And Young People

Alternatively, have a look at the NHS website for more ideas. Ask a grown up to have a look too and explain anything you don’t understand.

Try something new – you might love it!

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