Youth Workouts: Beginner

Linda Melone, ACSM Certified Personal Trainer

A child's fitness level may influence his or her health as a young adult, according to research at the University of Oslo in Norway. Fit 13-year-olds were less likely to have hypertension or become obese than their sedentary counterparts. In addition, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) found a link between better grades and 20 minutes of vigorous activity a day, three or more days a week. The bottom line: fit kids become healthier adults.


But getting a child started can be a challenge. A child is a beginner if he or she is currently sedentary, watching video games, surfing the Internet or spending hours on the computer or TV.

Adults and parents can set an example by staying active themselves and encouraging fun activities. Bike riding, hiking, playing catch and other outdoor games can all contribute to the recommended hour of daily activity recommended by ACSM for young adults under the age of 18. The 60 minutes may be broken up into smaller bouts of activity throughout the day as well.

Tips to Get Going

Keep these tips in mind when encouraging a child to become more active:

  • Avoid the word "exercise" when referring to activities. Instead, focus on fun ways to be physically active and kids will stick with it.
  • Start with short increments of activity and give kids rest time until they become more fit.
  • Let the child pick the activity—and then do the activity with them.
  • Look for group activities to help engage kids with other kids.

Fun Activities to Try

Mix and match these activities and create your own versions to keep it fun. Do each activity for a total of 60 minutes, or work up to 60 minutes over the course of two weeks.

Week 1

Monday - Find a local park, and simply go for a walk!
Tuesday - Play Frisbee in the backyard
Wednesday - Visit your local basketball court or gym and shoot some hoops
Thursday - Discuss what sports or classes might be of interest, and look into signing up
Friday - Go to a local bowling alley as a family and have fun while being active!

Week 2

Monday - Have a family game of tag
Tuesday - Go to a local climbing wall
Wednesday - Take a nature hike collecting leaves and rocks
Thursday - Go for a bike ride
Friday - Run with the family dog

Once you've exhausted your own ideas, speak with a certified fitness professional or your child’s physical education teacher to help you take the next step.

Done with the beginner's workout? Move on to Intermediate.


This content was provided by American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), the world's largest sports medicine and exercise science organization and proud content provider for NBA FIT