Kids and Exercise, your questions answered.

Vanessa from www.sportball.ca talk us through how much exercise your child needs and how best to get them moving!

Vanessa Morley is the program coordinator for Sportball for Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland. She has a degree in Recreation and Health Education from UVIC and is currently studying for her Masters in Recreation Management. www.sportball.ca

How old does my child have to be before he/she starts exercising or participating in sports?

As soon as your child is old enough to be moving around on their feet, having them involved in physical activity and sports programs is a good idea.  Programs do not have to be competitive – just having the moving around and practicing their gross motor skills is very important to the development of coordination, balance and refined motor growth.  Children can usually start participating in Parent and Child programs at local schools and recreation centres between the ages of 1.5-2 years.

What sorts of exercise or sporting activities should I be doing with my child?

Programs that have children working on gross and refined motor skills, balance, coordination and stamina are ideal.  It is important to expose children to a wide range of activities including sports (soccer and multi-sport programs are great starting point), swimming, gymnastics and others.  The most important point to remember when involving young children in sport is to foster a lifelong enjoyment of physical activity and starting sooner is better.  Encouraging participation (even when you are met with resistance) in a team oriented setting will help children to develop confidence and passion for being active.

What are the benefits of exercise or sporting activities for my child?

The prevention of obesity is one of the most important reasons to involve children in physical activity.  Childhood is a time for unique growth in health, social, intellectual, emotional and physical development.  Behaviors developed during the early years (0-6 years) are key in the proper development of fundamental motor skills and may influence a lifespan of participation in physical activity and healthy eating.  Other benefits to physical activity: healthy weight, muscular strength, cardiovascular fitness, proper bone mass and density, low blood pressure, low levels of anxiety and stress and higher self esteem.

How much exercise should my child get every day?

Preschool aged children thrive best when getting 60 to 120 minutes of daily physical activity and it does not have to be all at one time!  A balance of both moderate and vigorous activity is important.  Moderate physical activity requires a level of effort that will elevate the breathing and heart rate while vigorous physical activity is intense enough to present a challenge and increased effort level as well as increasing the breathing and heart rates.  It is important for parents of preschool and school aged children to not rely solely on the daycare provider and school for physical activity as there is often a discrepancy between what parents believe was achieved and what was actually done.  Parents who spend time being active with the kids are also more likely to encourage their kids to be active.  Parents are the ideal role model!

At what age can my child participate in team sports?

It is important to encourage a love of physical activity and sport before becoming involved in competitive team sports.  Team sports are normally offered for children approximately 4 years and up.  As a parent, being conscious to encourage your child and their team is vital.  Team sports for young children should involve every child on the team, regardless of skill level.  Team sports are very important for children to learn to work with each other and a coach/instructor.  Team sports can teach children to take turns, share and encourage their friends.  Talking to your child after a game or practice, regardless of the outcome, is a good way to build their confidence in skills, understanding of “team” and self-esteem.  Young children (under the age of 7) usually have a very positive perception of their own athletic abilities.

What are the benefits of team sports?

Organized teams sports can provide a variety of benefits for children.  As mentioned above, team sports can help children to develop a lifelong love for physical activity, healthy living.  Team sports can also teach children cooperative play, humility, appreciation for others and what it means to commit to something.  Children involved in team sports tend to be more physically fit than their uninvolved peers.  Team activities serves as an environment that fosters the development of social skills and peer relationships.

Are some sports better for children than others ?

Whatever your child enjoys is the best for them!  The main goal is to have you child physically active and enjoying it!  Introduce them to a variety of sports when they are young and go from there.  Some kids will gravitate to “individual” sports such as skating, gymnastics and swimming while others will enjoy playing on teams like hockey, lacrosse and soccer.  There is always a certain amount of positives and negatives that come with every activity.

What is Sportball and how can we get involved?

Sportball helps children to develop socially as well as physically, through a curriculum designed to reinforce self-confidence free from the pressure of competition. In our programs, children from 16 months to 12 years of age, are provided with a skills-driven, high-energy and fun-filled curriculum. Sportball Multi-Sport programs introduce children to the fundamental concepts and skills behind eight popular ball sports: baseball, football, basketball, golf, hockey, soccer, tennis and volleyball. Using creative instruction and positive encouragement, our programs focus on the development of gross motor skills, along with balance, strength, co-ordination, stamina and timing. The equipment that we use is age-appropriate and sized just right for the children in our programs.

Sportball offers weekly classes that are run seasonally, as well as camps and clinics during school holidays.  There are several programs offered around Greater Victoria at Recreation Centres, Community Centres, schools and more.  Our full schedule is available online anytime at www.sportball.ca.  Any questions or information can be provided by the office by calling 250-590-4625 or emailing van.island@sportball.ca