Your swim school is about more than getting kids ready to compete or even winning swim competitions. You want to positively impact the lives of your swim students by helping them achieve physical fitness and form lifelong healthy habits. Once you understand the various aspects of physical fitness and the deficiencies that most kids today have (see Part 1), you need to understand the unique needs of children’s bodies and how you can accommodate them while guiding both them and their parents in improving their physical fitness in the most significant ways.
Child-Specific Physical Challenges
When we consider the specific challenges of the “degeneration generation,” the problem is obvious, but the antidote is simple: cardiovascular habits. As habits are improved, cardiovascular endurance and overall physical fitness will be impacted. While there are certainly many similarities between what they look like for adults versus kids, there are also differences. And each child is unique, as well.
Because their bodies are still in the process of growing, children face some challenges that adults do not. With growth spurts, acclimation periods often come with lack of coordination and increased risk of injury. A lesser degree of core strength and lack of muscular development, children also tend to be weaker and – as a result – more vulnerable to injury. While flexibility can aid in reducing chances of injury, many children lack that quality as well. Compared to many other sporting activities, swimming can certainly be a safe and helpful physical activity for children, since water sports are easier on coordination and the movements encourage flexibility.
Healthy Habits to Encourage Endurance
While it might seem a tad outside your area of expertise, a healthy diet goes a long way toward helping a child improve cardio endurance. Healthy snack food choices during and after school hours are especially significant in providing increased energy levels. While there are many ideas of what constitutes kid-friendly fare, children thrive on the same kinds of colorful, plant-based whole foods as adults. Good snack choices will improve stamina, rather than decreasing it like sugary “junk food” will do. Iron-rich foods, complex carbohydrates, and fruits such as red grapes and bananas are all great choices.
In addition to a nutrient-rich diet, daily physical activity is another important healthy habit. Especially on days in which a child doesn’t have swimming class, encourage some kind of physical activity: walking, jogging, riding bikes, dancing – it all counts! Organized sports are not necessary every day of the week, but some kind of aerobic exercise that generates energy definitely is. While competition certainly helps motivate some kids to be active, organized sports are not the only means of encouraging physical activity.
If you’re wondering where you come in and how you can encourage these kinds of healthy habits, check out our next post!