Age-appropriate tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics:
- Infants and toddlers: Exercise programs or classes are not recommended for this age group. Infants and toddlers should learn to enjoy outdoor activity and unstructured exploration - always under proper supervision - including walking in the neighborhood, unorganized free play outdoors, and walking through a park or zoo.
- Preschool-age children (4 to 6 years): Free play should be encouraged with emphasis on fun, playfulness, exploration and experimentation. Appropriate activities might include running, swimming, tumbling, throwing and catching. Parents should reduce reliance on strollers and cars, and preschoolers should begin walking tolerable distances with family members.
- Elementary school-age children (6 to 9 years). Encourage free play, as well as walking, dancing or jumping rope. Organized sports (such as soccer or baseball) should have flexible rules and short instruction time, allowing free time in practices and focusing on enjoyment rather than competition.
- Middle school-age children (10 to 12 years): Focus on activities involving family and friends. Organized sports can begin to focus on skill development, as well as strategy. Weight training can be started in this age group with proper supervision, stressing proper technique, light weights and high repetitions.
- Adolescents: Identifying activities that are fun and include friends is crucial for long-term participation. Activities can include individual fitness (such as dance, yoga or running), active transportation (walking, cycling), household chores, and competitive and noncompetitive sports. Weight training may continue, with longer sets, heavier weights and shorter sets, as the child reaches physical maturity