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Lifetime Sports

It is important that physical activity be a regular part of family life. Studies have shown that lifestyles learned as children are much more likely to stay with a person into adulthood. If sports and physical activities are a family priority, they will provide children and parents with a strong foundation for a lifetime of health.

Before school age, children should stay physically active and healthy through unstructured “free play.” For preschool-aged children, “sports” classes that emphasize fun are a great way to introduce athletics without competition. Most older children are ready for organized team sports when they are about 6 years of age. This is when they can follow directions and understand the concept of teamwork.

Keep in mind that all children are unique individuals. They grow and mature at different rates. Age, weight, and size shouldn’t be the only measures used to decide if your child is ready to play a sport. Emotional development is also important. Children shouldn’t be pushed into a sport or placed in a competition they are not physically or emotionally ready to handle. Consider allowing your child to participate only if his interest is strong and you feel he can handle it. Remember, most children play sports to have fun.

The AAP recommends that physical education programs in schools emphasize lifetime sports (as well as activities that are not just for the best athletes). These lifetime sports include

Lifetime Sports




Bowling Martial Arts Tennis
Golf Racquetball Walking
In-line and ice skating Skiing Dancing


Last Updated
Healthy Children, Fit Children: Answers to Common Questions From Parents About Nutrition and Fitness (Copyright © 2011 American Academy of Pediatrics)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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