NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Current trends show American children are becoming increasingly overweight, and that means a push from parents, to encourage kids to be more physically active.

For many that means organized sports – soccer, baseball, football – but organized sports and physical activity aren’t always the same thing, reports CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez.

The American Academy of Pediatrics says children should be physically active pretty much as soon as they can walk, run and play.

When it comes to organized sports, the academy says, hold off a few years.

For example, 8-year-old Cannon Nelson takes the baseball field under the watchful eye of mom, who is also his coach.

“Multiple sports are good for kids,” said Tiffany Nelson.

“I have played basketball, I have played football and I love soccer and baseball,” said Cannon.

That “love” for the game is why the academy is updating recommendation, urging an emphasis on enjoyment of sports for children. Instead of winning, the AAP says most kids are ready to play organized sports around age 6.

“At younger ages, we should really be encouraging free play, letting them run, jump, climb to learn the things that they need to so they can participate later on,” said Dr. Steven Cuff of the Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

The report says organized sports provide more than just physical activity, they also help children build essential life skills such as teamwork, self-reflection and organization.

“It helps kids develop social skills, improves their self-esteem and can decrease feelings of stress and depression,” said Cuff.

Cuff co-authored the new report which suggests finding ways to include all kids in organized sports, no matter their skill level.

MORE: Experts: Parents Should Keep Up Kids’ School Skills During Summer

Middle and high schools should offer multiple levels of sports play to keep athletes engaged who don’t want to compete at high levels or are unable to.

Parent support should be positive, and coaches with a “fun focused” approach are more likely to have athletes who enjoy and stay in sports.

“My kids are probably not going to make the major leagues,” said Tiffany Nelson. “I’ll be totally honest, they’re not. But, are they having fun right now? They are”

For kids like Cannon, the fun and friendships formed on this field, will help him remain active for life

The report also encourages parents to ask questions about sports programs before they sign kids up.

Ask about codes of conduct, pressure to win and so on.

The goal here is to have kids find something they enjoy enough to play for life.

  1. Anton Mikofsky says:

    multiple sports means less injuries due to single-sport stress

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