How do I get my child involved in sports and fitness activities?

Childhood is about having fun and learning how to do things and about one’s world. Parents can help guide their children through many of life’s different scenarios, such as teaching children how to count, brush teeth, or interact with others. However, children can also learn many life skills and lessons by participating in sports or fitness activities.

Participating in physical activities can be important in a child’s development for several reasons (Janssen & LeBlanc, 2010). Physical activity can reduce stress, boost self-esteem, and increase intellectual engagement (UMHC, n.d.). Playing sports can help children learn how to control emotions, develop patience, and engage in teamwork. All of these benefits can be gained while just having a good time!

Here are some easy steps you can think about for getting your child involved in a sport or fitness activity that he or she could enjoy.

  1. Consider your child’s skills and talk to your child about what activities might interest him or her.
  2. Consider how much time is available for your child to participate in an activity.
  3. Check out options with your child, and visit different activities, sports, and locations.
  4. Arrive early for the first practice to give your child time to feel comfortable.
  5. Help your child prepare for tryouts or the first sessions.
  6. Go over the schedule with your child.
  7. Speak with the coach.
  8. Create goals with your child.
  9. Assess the season afterward with your child.


The best sports for kids, and how to find the right one for your child:



Jennsen, I., & Leblanc, A. (2010). Systematic review of the health benefits of physical activity and fitness in school-aged children and youth. PubMed – NCBI. Retrieved November 6, 2019 from

Patino, E. (2019). How to get your child involved in sports. Retrieved November 6, 2019, from

University of Missouri Health Care (UMHC). (n.d.). Benefits of sports for adolescents. Retrieved November 6, 2019, from

Shake the Sugar

Not all sugar is created equal. What does that mean? There are natural sugars and added sugars. Natural sugars are found in many whole foods that Americans eat on a daily basis, like grains, dairy products, fruits, and vegetables (American Heart Association, 2018; Harvard Health Publishing, 2017). In fact, the natural sugars found in these whole foods have been shown to be beneficial in a healthy diet and can help prevent some diseases and even lower one’s cardiovascular risk.

It is the added sugar found in so many food products that is not healthy! Added sugar can put children at risk for many long-term health concerns such as obesity, tooth decay, heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and fatty liver disease (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2019).

These potential health issues are serious, even life-threatening over time.  Consider this staggering fact:  American youth ages 9 to 13 consume, on average, 130 to 201 grams of regular soft drinks and fruit drinks each day (Battram, Piché, Beynon, Kurtz, & He, 2016). There are four calories in one gram of sugar, so this means these youth are consuming between 520 to 804 calories just in sweetened beverages EVERY day!

How can you spot added sugar in an ingredient list? Look for the following:

  • Any ingredient ending in -ose
  • Brown sugar
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Corn sweetener
  • Fruit juice concentrates
  • Molasses
  • Turbinado
  • Any sweetener you would add from your table (i.e., stevia, Splenda, maple syrup, etc.)

How can you be mindful about added sugar?

  • Read nutrition labels
  • Serve water and milk instead of soda or sport drinks
  • Limit fruit juice
  • Satisfy your child’s sweet tooth with whole fruit
  • Eat as many fresh foods as possible!

(AAP, 2019)



American Academy of Pediatrics. (2019, March 25). How to reduce added sugar in your child’s diet: AAP tips. Retrieved from

American Heart Association. (2018, April 17). Added sugars. Retrieved from

Battram, D. S., Piché, L., Beynon, C., Kurtz, J., & He, M. (2016). Sugar-sweetened beverages: Children’s perceptions, factors of influence, and suggestions for reducing intake. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, 48(1), 27-34.

Harvard Health Publishing. (2017, May). Too much added sugar can be one of the greatest threats to cardiovascular disease. Here’s how to curb your sweet habit. Retrieved from

Korioth, T. (2019). Added sugar in kids’ diet: How much is too much? American Academy of Pediatrics News. Retrieved from