At what age should fitness be taught

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Triple Log
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At what age should fitness be taught

Postby Triple Log » Sun Jul 20, 2014 7:22 pm UTC

How young is too young to start teaching children about a healthy lifestyle?
How old is too late?

What impacts might this have on a child's body image, etc.

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Re: At what age should fitness be taught

Postby nightbird » Mon Jul 21, 2014 7:14 am UTC

Very early. However, it needs to be appropriate. Don't give them a barbell and a protein shake when they turn five; instead, cook healthy meals for them, make them eat fruits and vegetables (do NOT force it down their throat, it will be counterproductive) and let them be active - something they will be anyway if you lead from the front. When they get a bit older, you can enroll them in sports of their choosing.
I think that they should learn things by just playing; balancing, coordination... These are things many, many kids lack these days because they never tried to. In my country, backward rolls were recently removed from the primary school PE curriculum because they were deemed 'difficult and dangerous'. Seriously, I was not a natural athlete at all, but this makes me shake my head so hard...

Also check out Ross Enamait's blog, he writes a lot about raising children with fitness.

Concerning the other two questions...

How late is too late - there is no too late. Sooner is more ideal (if done in an age appropriate manner), but it's never too late to start. However, please remember that children have their own will.
Body image - a child's fitness should NEVER be geared towards appearance but about the ability to move. This in itself will greatly improve body image because they will be confident in their capabilities. I think people forget that with an active lifestyle and a good diet, obesity (as well as being underweight) is very rare among children anyway.
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Re: At what age should fitness be taught

Postby philsov » Mon Jul 21, 2014 3:16 pm UTC

Never too young and never too late, even for adults. The number of adults that are "beyond help" is pretty small (yet visible), imo.

As a parent it's a matter of leading by example in your food selection, portion sizes, and activity level, starting pretty much as soon as they're walking. As a... tertiary family member or educator or something then I'd say elementary school age is a good place to start. And even then it's basics like "eat a vegetable with each meal" or "play outside for >30 minutes every day."

And body image is secondary to personal health. By not teaching children anything about fitness, body image issues may still arise. If anything, it'd be a net positive. Teaching children to be respectful of each other and themselves (the root cause of body image issues) isn't directly fitness related, although teaching them fitness and following with it is a means to do so.
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Re: At what age should fitness be taught

Postby wumpus » Mon Jul 21, 2014 11:45 pm UTC

Once they start choosing what to eat is "early enough"
Too late only involves terminal illness.

Of course, early stages might include "eat a healthy [food]" and the possibly now forbidden "go outside and play". Don't pull out the exercise physiology textbooks until late teens or later. The basics are pretty easy:

Eat healthy: lots of ways to do this. Of course this goes hand in hand with the "teaching ignoring propaganda" as every food industry tries its best to get its food labeled "healthy".
Cardiovascular fitness: be active for long periods of time. For young kids this is pretty much standard behavior (preferably outside). Older kids might need a specific sport.
Flexibility: stretching helps. I might be in the "too late" stage.
Strength: lots of things that involve bursts of activity that takes less than one minute should help (anerobic) strength. Bodyweight exersize is good for [somewhat] older kids. The fancy stuff (weird rep schedules and such) can wait until they are ready for that exercize physiology textbook ( more than 3 sets or less than 8 reps is not required for any reasonably "healthy" level of fitness, but if they want it for sports or other reasons...).

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