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How can I keep my child active if she doesn’t like sports?

Dania J. Lindenberg, MD
Pediatrics
Sports are not a good fit for every child, but there are lots of organized activities that involve physical skills that don’t necessarily require being competitive. Look for options that focus on individual achievement or cooperation within an active group, such as dance lessons, boogie boarding or horseback riding. These types of activities can be fun, teach new skills, build self-confidence and can be a great workout without any of the pressure to “win.”

Don't forget, any time your kids are active they're getting a health benefit. Try new things out slowly, and keep expectations realistic — for you and your child. Also, try to make physical activity a priority for the whole family to improve everyone's health.

Make it fun and encourage play with friends. Exercise is any activity that stresses the musculoskeletal system or the cardiorespiratory system. Make exercise a game that your kids will enjoy. Ride bicycles, play catch, or tag. You can also, take your kid swimming as this is an excellent form of exercise. Getting your kid to play fun games with friends outdoors will bring about the benefits of exercise. 

Chat with your child about the various possibilities. She may already have expressed interest in an activity and is waiting for you to make it happen. Your community may offer excellent classes in dance, swimming, martial arts, skating, tennis, or horseback riding. Once a choice is made, consider the time commitment and cost involved before jumping in with both feet.

Don’t force a child to continue an activity she doesn’t enjoy, especially once she’s given it a chance. Try to gauge her level of commitment early on. Find out if it’s possible for her to take one or two trial classes first. That way, if it turns out that the activity isn’t her cup of tea, you can look at another option. Ask your child if any of her friends might want to join the class or activity at the same time? That might make it more fun for her and will encourage commitment -- and you can share carpooling with her friend’s parents.

From Good Kids, Bad Habits: The RealAge Guide to Raising Healthy Children by Jennifer Trachtenberg.

Good Kids, Bad Habits: The RealAge Guide to Raising Healthy Children

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.