Introducing children to fitness at a young age will not only increase their chances of becoming sporting superstars, it will also boost their health and social skills

Today’s school playgrounds show that many of the kids’ physiques are starting to mimic those of their parents.  Being obese, overweight and lacking in energy has become the norm as Gaelic football, soccer, rugby and playing knick the knocker have been replaced by hours watching TV or playing on PlayStations.

Schools have not been helped in promoting sports with the increasing number of litigious claims against them for kids falling in the playground. It is not uncommon for running to be banned in schools because of this!

Sugary cereals, soft drinks, crisps and processed foods form the contents of many school lunchboxes these days.  In addition, some schools’ funding does not provide PE teachers to help kids develop their fitness.  Research by Singer on Motor Learning says that 90pc of children’s co-ordination is developed by the age of 12.

This means that if your kid hasn’t been active by this age ,he is never going to excel at sport. Canadian Exercise Researcher Istvan Bayley has devoted his life to developing a formula into How to Get your Kids to the Olympics in 20 years time. Whether it’s your goal to do this or not, you have the responsibility as a parent to teach your child habits that will enable them to be healthy.  Istvan follows a 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 formula. When a kid is very young, he should play five sports, if not more. As the years progress, the number gradually whittles down until he or she specialises in one.
The larger the number of sports the child plays, the higher the peak of the pyramid will be when the he or she specialises in a single sport.  Soccer stars Niall Quinn and Roy Keane participated in hurling and boxing, while Irish rugby international Shane Horgan played Gaelic Football for Meath.

So the tips to improve your children’s health are:

  • Allow your child to develop stabilising muscles by limiting or eliminating the use of a walker.
  • Limit the use of TVs and computers, and teach your children the outdoor games you learned as a child.
  • Encourage your child to play as many sports as possible.
  • With younger kids, don’t confuse resistance training with weight-training. Climbing ropes is an excellent tool for developing strength in kids.
  • Be a healthy role model and your kids will follow your lead.
  • Eat a wholesome, nutritional diet with protein, vegetables, fruits and healthy fats — and drink plenty of water.

If you are unsure about sports or nutrition, seek the guidance of a professional.

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