Youth Sports: A Strategy to Satisfy Physical Activity Guidelines for Children
Numerous research investigations have indicated physical activity can enhance an individual’s mental and physical health as well as prevent several chronic diseases. Based on these investigations’ findings, in 2008, the United States Government issued Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. The United States Department of Health and Human Services’ specific guidelines for children and adolescents are:
- Children and adolescents should do 60 minutes (1 hour) or more of physical activity daily.
- Aerobic: Most of the 60 or more minutes a day should be either moderate- or vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, and should include vigorous-intensity physical activity at least 3 days a week.
- Muscle-strengthening: As part of their 60 or more minutes of daily physical activity, children and adolescents should include muscle-strengthening physical activity on at least 3 days of the week.
- Bone-strengthening: As part of their 60 or more minutes of daily physical activity, children and adolescents should include bone-strengthening physical activity on at least 3 days of the week.
- It is important to encourage young people to participate in physical activities that are appropriate for their age, that are enjoyable, and that offer variety.
A potential strategy for children and adolescents to accomplish these objectives is to participate in youth sports. The National Council of Youth Sports (NCYS) estimates 44 million boys and girls (up to age 18) are currently participating in organized youth sport programs in the United States. In order to satisfy Physical Activity Guidelines, adults should obtain feedback from youth sport participants concerning their expectations and experiences.
Many youths participate in sporting activities in order to develop physical skills, to build relationships with teammates and competitors, and to experience fun. Therefore, sport administrators, coaches, and parents must develop and maintain youth sports programs which encourage physical skill development, the sustainment of social relationships, and provide opportunities for all youth sport participants to have fun. For example, coaches could incorporate team building strategies during sport participation in order to develop social relationships and endorse excitement and fun.
If you are interested in learning about youth sport programs in your local area, you should contact your community’s Parks and Recreation Department or youth sport organizations.
National Council of Youth Sports (n.d.). The “GO-TO” Organization: Your Resource for Youth Sports and Programs. Retrieved September 30, 2010, from http://www.ncys.org/
United States Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Chapter 3: Active Children and Adolescents. In Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. Retrieved September 30, 2010, from http://www.health.gov/paguidelines/guidelines/chapter3.aspx
Dr. Johnson is the Chair of Sports Coaching at the United States Sports Academy. He holds a doctorate in sports psychology and master’s degrees in business administration, sports business administration, athletic coaching education, counseling, and sport behavior.