As parents, it’s your job to provide your children with a healthy lifestyle which includes physical activity. Explain to them that sport is not only fun but important for their health. At age of 4, your children's physical abilities (running, throwing, jumping etc.) are constantly improving.
Give your children good habits in the following ways:
In the united states, more people die from heart disease than any other cause. Physical activity can improve abilities and general feeling and lower the chance of heart disease later in life. Aerobic activity also lowers the chance of developing hypertension and increases the “good” cholesterol (HDL). Although heart disease is usually connected to old age, a dangerous level of fat in arteries was found in 5% of children under the age of 3 which could lead at some point to heart disease.
Recommendations for children at this age are to participate in physical activity that raises their heart rate three times a week for half an hour each time. Don’t forget to stretch before and after.
Your child can do adjusted push-ups (knees on the ground), sit-ups (bent knees and feet on the ground). As your children grow and their muscles get stronger, they will be able to work out longer and be more immune to injuries.
It’s important to start with stretching exercises as early as possible. This can help halt the loss of flexibility that happens normally with age. Try stretching until your child feels the stretch but before they feel pain, and hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds. It’s important not to jump during the stretch.
Remember the limitations of 4-5-year-old kids. Try to involve them in fun and challenging activities that will advance coordination but nothing beyond their abilities. Many parents send their children to do sports at this age to keep their children busy, but it’s important to remember that most kids this age can’t even throw and catch a ball correctly. Even simple rules can seem complicated to them. If you start too early, it could cause frustration if your child can’t achieve goals time and again. Make sure to choose a place that is appropriate for both your child’s age and abilities.
It doesn’t matter what the sport is -your child should enjoy themselves. If they're not - ask yourself why. If your child enjoys what he does, there’s a higher chance they will want to continue doing it later.
If your child doesn't want to play with other kids or complains of pain after physical activity, make an appointment with your child’s pediatrician.
Last updated: May 2017
Authors - Judah Freedman BA MED, Dr. Yair Sadaka MD Ph.D., pediatrician, Pediatric neurologist