Fitness Activities for a Preteen
You may think fitness means going to the gym everyday after school. However, there are many different forms of physical fitness. It's not important what you do to stay fit, it's important that you do it regularly. Below are articles about the benefits of exercising as well as tips for finding the right fitness activity for you.
There are many different types of activities you can try to keep in shape. Here are some ideas
- Running or walking
- Lifting weights
- Dancing or ballet
- Martial arts
- Calisthenics (sit-ups, push-ups and chin-ups
- Tennis, badminton or racquetball
Just as it is for adults and younger kids, teen fitness is important for physical and mental health. Adolescents need 60 minutes ofmoderate to vigorous physical activity a day to stay healthy. And exercise has particular benefits for pre-teens and teens, as it can
- Reduce anxiety, stress, and depression
- Improve self-esteem
- Boost academic performance
- Help establish lifelong healthy habits
Pretty convincing! And yet physical activity tends to decline as kids get older. They're busier with school and friends, they are easily discouraged if they feel their performance doesn't measure up to their peers, and puberty can make them feel ashamed of their bodies.
Since only a fraction of middle and high schools provide daily physical education classes, pre-teens and teens need lots of opportunities for fitness outside of school hours.
- Team sports: For kids this age, organized sportsprovide not only physical activity, but good friendships and lessons in teamwork, motivation, and staying organized. Most schools have many different sports options, both competitive and intramural. If your child's favorite sport isn't offered, check out recreational leagues and community centers.
- Individual pursuits: Team play isn't for everyone. Some pre-teens and teens prefer activities they can practice on their own, such as running, biking, yoga, horseback riding, or snowboarding. If one of these is more your child's style, help her embrace and enjoy it!
- Everyday play and movement: Outside of more organized workouts, other physical activities count toward that daily 60-minute goal. That could mean housework, yardwork, biking to school, dancing, walking the dog, or playing tag with kids in the neighborhood.
Parents who are physically active tend to have kids who are active, too. So strive to be a role model. Make time for exercise in your daily life and find family fitness activities to share (such as a Saturday picnic at a park—pack jump ropes and Frisbees along with the sandwiches and lemonade).
Support your teen's fitness endeavors. Yes, driving to practices and games can be a drag, but you may be able to set up a carpool with other parents. If equipment costs and team fees are prohibitive, talk with the coach or school guidance counselor about scholarships and sources for used gear. If you don't have a backyard or nearby park, consider a membership at a YMCA, Boys & Girls Club, or other fitness facility.
Celebrate your athlete's achievements. Tell your child how proud you are! Go to games and display trophies and medals. Kids notice.
Limit screen time—television, computer, and video games. Too much sedentary activity (more than 2 hours a day) crowds fitness activities out of your child's schedule.
Mental Capacity for Sports in the Pre-Teen Years
During the preteen years, the brain's ability to plan a set of plays or course of action and store that plan is at a level that allows youngsters to improve in all sports, most notably in those with more complex skills and rapid decision making. These active youngsters should be able to take information input from multiple sources and process it to produce a certain desired action. They can ignore information that is not needed, focus on specific tasks, and make more appropriate decisions with the information they have been given. They become a little less concrete or black-and-white in their thinking patterns and can form a few conceptual thoughts to help build on coaching instructions from the previous months or years.
Preteens are able to respond better to verbal instructions with less show-and-tell, but we all know that at any level of sport, visual instruction and demonstration can be worth a thousand words. Selective attention is improved with less interference from distractions. Pause here for clarificationthe key word is selective. Johnny may have selective attention on the field to help him perform better, yet also have selective attention and stay focused on the television when asked to take out the garbage.
By this point in development, youngsters should be able to enter basically any sport for more significant competition if they are ready from a mental and emotional standpoint. Don't forget that physical stature is not the only ingredient necessary for successful overall participation. Their bodies may be ready for harder training and competition, but emotionally they need to know already that they are valued as your children, regardless of whether they are national, local, or backyard superstars.
Pre-teens health and wellbeing: in a nutshell
Wellbeing in the pre-teen years is built on good mental health, plenty of physical activity, lots of sleep, nutritious food and positive relationships with family and friends.
Physical health and wellbeing
Your child needs to make good food choices so her body gets the nutrition it needs for puberty's growth spurts. Your child's physical activity and stage of development determine herfood needs, although there are some general guidelines for daily food portions for children aged 8-11 years.
During these years, your child also forms lifelong eating habits, so now is the time to reinforce healthy food and eating choices. This can be as simple as choosing and cooking tasty and nutritious family food. If you set the scene for healthy eating at home, your child might be more likely to make good choices when he's eating away from home.
You can guide your child towards eating well by keeping your cupboard and fridge full of nutritious snacks and meals. This might mean you won't have to 'police' your child's choices so much.
Australian guidelines recommend children aged 5-18 years have at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day.
Moderate activities make your child gently 'huff and puff'. Vigorous activities increase your child's heart rate and make her 'huff and puff' even more.
Your child doesn't have to get his daily 60 minutes of physical activity in one hit, though. He can build it up over the day through a range of different activities, such as organised sport, walking before school, running around at school or evening exercise classes.
Because young people have so many demands on their time, you and your child might need to plan how she's going to make physical activity happen.
Getting enough sleep
Your child needs plenty of good-quality sleep, but you might notice his sleep habits changing. To help with night-time sleep, your child could try to keep active during the day, go to sleep and get up at about the same time each day, and wind down before bed. Keeping electronic equipment out of the bedroom can improve sleep too.
Your child's changing body means that her hygiene habits might also need to change.
Dental care is just as important as ever, and your child will probably need to pay extra attention to washing feet, armpits and genitals. It might be time to introduce deodorant too. Girls might need some help with sanitary pads and tampons, and boys might need help with shaving.
When your child is on top of basic personal hygiene, it can help him fit in with other people and boost his confidence.
Mental health and wellbeing
Mental health is an essential part of your child's wellbeing and central to her development.
There's a strong link between the quality of parent–teenager relationships and young people's mental health. Just giving your child lots of love, spending time together and showing interest in his life can help promote good mental health.
Good physical health is related to good mental health. Steering clear of alcohol and other drugs can help your child avoid serious risk factors for mental health problems.
Sexual health and wellbeing
Sexuality isn't just about sex. It's also about how your child feels about her developing body, how she understands feelings of intimacy and attraction, and how she develops respectful relationships.
Open communication between parents and their children has a positive influence on adolescent sexual behaviour. It's good to get this communication happening early, to help your child understand that sex and sexuality are a normal, healthy part of life.
Talking about sexuality is often easier if you can pick up on everyday moments – for example, scenes in movies or TV shows. It's also a good idea to think about your own values, be prepared for questions about things like puberty, periods and contraception, and be ready to talk about really important stuff like safe sex and the right to say 'no'.
You can support your child to start seeing a GP alone as a step towards managing his own physical, mental and sexual health. This is a skill your child needs for life.
Health concerns: body and mind
Body image, weight and eating
can lay the foundations for good physical and mental health later in life.
But there are many risk factors for poor body image, including overweight and obesity. Poor body image is a risk factor for risky weight loss strategies, eating disorders and mental health disorders.
Mental health concerns
Some anxiety and emotional ups and downs are a normal part of adolescence.
But if your child seems down, flat or sad for two or more weeks, or if you notice moods or anxiety are stopping your child from getting on with her usual daily activities, these could be signs of more serious mental health problems such asdepression or anxiety disorders.
If you can, start by talking with your child about the situation. Mental health problems are unlikely to get better on their own, so your child will need professional help too – for example, a school counsellor or your GP. service for young people aged 5-25. Kids Helpline also offers web counselling and email counselling services.
If your child tells you he is having persistent thoughts about hurting himself or that he wants to die, seek urgent professional help.