Why Sports Don’t Equal Exercise for Your Kids

This is a guest post from my friend, Adam.  I always thought my kids were getting plenty of exercise at sports practice!  Who knew!

Whether it is the First Lady or Cartoon Network endorsing that you get your kids active, more and more parents are sending their kids off to play sports, join teams and get outside. Although this sounds great and you may think your kids are getting the amount of exercise needed to be fit and healthy, the reality is that they may be getting none at all. Let’s look at team sports first.

If you sign your child up for softball, baseball, football, etc… They may get tons of exercise during practice when everyone has to run laps, practice throwing or work at getting better at the sport. Once the main season starts and practices are over, this can all end. If the games are an hour long, and your child isn’t on the field or running when playing football, chances are they are standing around and just cheering. If the sport is baseball or softball, most of the time is spent sitting on the bench waiting to bat or standing in the field hoping the ball will come to them. If they don’t hit it, then they don’t even run to the bases. So what can you do? Educate them on what to do while the game is going on.

Talking to the coach might get your kid more play time, but might not get them enough exercise. If they notice they aren’t playing, talk to them about training with another team member and how to get better. Instead of sitting, have them do jumping jacks, stretches and practice running drills until they get to play. (You may want to make sure they don’t wear themselves out to much though). Another thing they can do is practice pitching, sprinting and just throwing a ball around to keep them moving for the entire game. These are ways to turn a stand still hour into a full workout where they can begin to get the exercise that they may need. (You should definitely consult your doctor first just to make sure it is safe for your child to be doing this. This may also not result in enough exercise, but it may be better than sitting around and doing nothing.).

Solo sports like diving or gymnastics.

When you see divers and gymnasts they are usually in amazing shape. This is because they train like there is no tomorrow. However, if you signed them up for an hour class, the beginning may be just crunches, pushups and stretching for flexibility which can potentially be a great workout, but it only for the beginning of practice. Because there are only enough diving boards, platforms or gymnastics equipment for one or two people to go at a time, they are sitting still and not getting the workout they may need to be physically fit the rest of the time. Although there isn’t much you can do here because running around a pool or a gym is dangerous, you could always supplement the class with something else like a private dance class or running after practice or class is over.

Both of these sports require balance, strength and flexibility. Because of this, running and dancing are amazing ways to help train their body for the sports they love. They can run on a track or with you if you supervise and private dance classes are fairly inexpensive. Both will be an hour full of exercise that will keep them going if you find the right instructors. The other nice side benefit is that they will be so worn out from class that they’ll want to throw on their favorite pajamas or even kids robes and get ready to go to bed without an argument.

If you are one of the many parents that signed your children up for sports to help make sure they are getting their doctor recommended exercise, you may want to actually sit through and pay attention to their games. If it looks like they are sitting the majority of the time, you may want to teach them other things they can do to get a full hour or the doctor recommended time in. You can also find a complimentary sport that will help them to become better at the ones they love. Exercise is important for almost everyone. What you need to think about is if your kids are actually getting enough, or if you need to find another way to help them get more active. I am not a doctor so this is not medical advice and just an opinion. You should always ask your child’s licensed and certified doctor before having them start a new sport or activity and ask them how to measure, in a safe way, how to make sure they are getting enough exercise to be healthy.

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