Young swimmers participating in a triathlon.

Dec 11, 2015 / Sports Medicine

Dr. Wilson Advises Parents to Promote Lifetime Sports and General Fitness

We sat down with sports medicine expert Philip Wilson, M.D., pediatric orthopedic surgeon, to discuss his thoughts on lifetime sports.

What is a lifetime sport?

It’s an activity or sport that is enjoyable throughout your life. You can do these activities with a variety of people without being dependent on a team. It fits within any lifestyle, and you’re not forced to schedule around it.

How is this different from cross-training?

It really depends on the motivating factor. If you’re focused on cross-training to get better for your primary sport, you may not stick with the activity for a long time. If you’re participating in a wide variety of activities to promote general health and well-being, I think you’re more likely to continue.

What are some examples of lifetime sports?

Hiking, tennis, golf, swimming, jogging, walking and bicycling

What can parents do to encourage these activities?

  • Leave time in the schedule for physical activities.
  • Ask your kids what they would like to do.
  • Lead by example. Show them that being active is a way of life.

What do you think will help to motivate kids to be lifetime athletes?

We should create a variety of opportunities for them to develop an interest in being active. I think of activities like – take a walk in a nature preserve, take advantage of your city’s jogging trails, try out different playgrounds or check out the local climbing gym. The options are endless when combining activities and the outdoors.

Why is this so important to you?

In my career, I’ve seen some athletes continue in their primary sport for a long time; I’ve also seen many give up for one reason or another. It’s a tough transition from being a dedicated athlete to “real life” activities. I believe that those who are well-rounded and have learned the long-term values of sport and fitness will be healthy adults. They will understand the values of maintaining an active lifestyle.

Learn more about injury prevention and pediatric sports medicine.

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