Forming good habits through sports Forming good habits through sports

Children should do a maximum of one hour of exercise a day. It is important to know how to handle this exercise to prevent children from overdoing it. They should also choose their own favorite sport, not that of their parents.

Advisor: Jorge Iván Palacio Uribe
Sports Medicine Specialist, practitioner at Coomeva Private Healthcare

While it’s not about forcing them to play a sport that does not appeal to them, it’s also not about allowing them to stay glued to a tablet or to cell phone screens. Children playing sports is not only essential to their physical health, but  to their mental health as well.

As the sports medicine doctor Jorge Iván Palacio Uribe suggests, the best way parents can encourage their children to play a sport at an early age is through play, introducing them as games first before teaching them concepts about tactics, techniques or strategies.

When they are young, it is very common for children to change between different sports because they just want to explore until they find the activity they like best. This is the case with school physical education classes, where students rotate between doing different activities as they become familiar with their rules and dynamics.

As our specialist mentions, who belongs to the Center for Obesity, Dysmetabolism and Sports, the guidelines for physical activity around the world state that children should get at least one hour a day of exercise, amounting to seven hours a week, which can be distributed as deemed appropriate. This is the minimum recommended amount, as the maximum recommended amount is for them to not exceed ten hours per week. According to studies Palacio has participated in, children who exercise too much face diet-related risks.

“These children usually train for more than twelve hours a per week, and go through periods where they do not eat well because they do not have the time, sometimes only eating breakfast or anything such as packaged junk foods, which is not helpful when they are under such a high physical demand. These conditions affect and slow their growth,” Dr. Palacio explains.

In these cases, it is best to follow a nutrition plan with a strict schedule that fits their school day, as well as develop balance with their exercise routines.

Do not force your preferences on them

The main mistake parents make when introducing their children to a sport is wanting them to play their own favorite sport instead of letting their children choose according to their preference. This leads to children opting to not do any physical activity, which is even more dangerous.

Up to age eleven, physical activity is primarily aerobic, as children often spend their time running around. At this stage, they shouldn’t be doing specific exercises with external loads, as it is necessary to get an evaluation with a doctor and a pediatric endocrinologist beforehand who can indicate the steps to take according to the child’s stage of growth.

After age twelve, once children know what their favorite sport is and have learned to master it, more specific guidance can be given with techniques, tactics and strategies to prepare them for competing.

There are some children, however, who do not take an interest in any sport, and prefer to spend their free time playing video games or in front of screens, increasing childhood obesity rates and affecting their growth.

Ideally, according to Dr. Palacio Uribe, parents should encourage them to do fun activities such as going out to play with their friends, getting out to run around, playing in the pool or doing something fun that they are interested in •


How to get into skateboarding

  • Get a board. Think about whether you want a board for speed or to do tricks.
  • Use good sneakers. Sandals or boots can twist your ankle.
  • Use protective wear. Knee pads, ankle braces and helmets are the key to safety.
  • Have a good place to skate.  To start, a smooth floor without bumps or cracks is best.
  • Stay balanced. It is important to be able to hold your balance and be comfortable.
  • Do tricks once you feel ready. After learning the essentials, you can go on to the next level.

How can you motivate children to do sports?

The U.S. National Library of Medicine offers some tips to help motivate children.

 Let them know that being active will give them more energy, make their bodies stronger and make them feel good about themselves.

 Encourage them to do exercise and help them believe they can do it.

 Be a model for them. Start being more active if you aren’t already.

 Go for a walk together after dinner, or before turning on the television or playing computer games.

 Take them to community centers or parks where there are games, soccer fields, basketball courts and walking trails.   It is easier to be active when the people around you are active.

 Encourage them to dance to their favorite music.

Be careful of injuries

As children go through different stages of growth, it is important to be careful with the different risks that physical activity brings. Erroneously referred to as “growing pains,” Dr. Palacio highlights osteochondritis, which occurs when bones grow faster than tendons and muscles. The indicated treatment for this condition is physical therapy.

Benefits for the mind

Exercise also has a positive effect on children’s minds, as it helps them to release the stress that comes with their academic responsibilities and even with their sports activities when competing.

It also offers social benefits, as it produces endorphins that help keep their general well-being up and make them feel much better, having a positive impact on their self-esteem.

Five activities and their benefits for children

Taekwondo:  discipline, concentration, respect and self-confidence.

Cycling: resistance, coordination and balance.

Roller skating: aerobic endurance and balance, it also strengthens the leg muscles.

Skating: flexibility, body control and self-esteem, among others.

Video games:  in moderation they stimulate creativity and imagination, and help develop logic and mathematical skills.

Related: Sports: a way to strengthen family bonds