Physical Fitness and Sports Month

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Kids need 20 to 30 minutes of vigorous exercise every day! May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, so it’s a good time to find out what kids need to do to stay active. Fitness energizes and challenges people, and it helps resist diseases associated with inactivity. Physical fitness also enables people to do well in sports and other activities.

What counts as exercise? Try these: playing at recess, riding your bike around the neighborhood, dancing, tennis, and even walking your dog. Kids exercise in their school's physical education class. Schools also offer team sports and yearly performance tests to measure students' progress in physical fitness. Sports are a great way to get active! Try basketball, volleyball, track, and cross-country until you find what you like best. Exercise is a proven way to help people feel better. Some forms of exercise, such as yoga, for example, help you de-stress.

Some others are team sports with competition, such as soccer. Regular exercise improves concentration and memory, which means you'll do better in school. Working with your teammates and coaches also improves teamwork and goal setting. Practicing and improving your skills also builds self-confidence. You can make friends and feel good about yourself. Every time you exercise, your mood is boosted.

There are two kinds of fitness: performance and health. People might have physically demanding jobs or hobbies for which a higher level of performance-related fitness is required. Someone with a desk job who runs marathons needs a strong lung capacity. A factory worker who lifts inventory needs more strength. For health, there's a threshold everyone must meet to feel good and resist disease.

Sports combine all the factors of performance fitness. A gymnast needs to have muscular strength to jump and flip across the mat. Flexibility provides a large range of motion to twist the body in the air. Aerobic power takes oxygen into the body and produces energy. This builds endurance so the gymnast can perform for long periods. Anaerobic power combines speed and strength for the sprint and jump into a rotation, and its capacity is going all out for 30 seconds.

Health fitness is something everyone should have. For a flexible spine, you should be able to sit, legs extended, and reach within about 4 inches (10 centimeters) of your toes. For abdominal strength, you should be able to do 20 bent-knee sit-ups.

Being physically fit includes exercise, a balanced diet and of course exercising your brain. Learn more about how your body stays active with the book My Body from World Book’s Learning Ladders 1.

Image: © Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock

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