Fitness Should be Fun

Young tennis stars give advice on healthy living

  • Grades: 3–5, 6–8

After playing three consecutive (and very competitive) tennis matches, 12-year-old Lauren Fishbein was not even tired. Her fitness and stamina on the court won her a trip to Paris and an opportunity to play at the French Open in June. So how does she do it?

"I practice six days a week for two hours a day," Fishbein said. "I can practice for hours in the hot sun and not get tired. For the past few years I have a trainer and he's been helping me a lot to stay mentally fit, and also with my endurance."

Fishbein won her trip at the Longines Junior Tennis Challege in Queens, New York, recently. One of the coaches at the tournament explained the importance of fitness.

"Fitness is an easy way to improve your game that is in every athlete's control," said Luke Jensen, former professional tennis player and current head coach of the Syracuse University women's tennis team in Syracuse, New York. "You have to be smart with your diet, you have to go out and work and train, whether it's running, or sprinting, or riding a bike, you have to get so fit so that you can run down any ball."

Not every kid is an aspiring tennis star, but every kid can aspire to a healthier life, said the eight pre-teen girls who competed in the Longines tennis challenge. Even at their young ages, these girls already know the importance of eating healthy and staying fit. And any sport or activity will do, as long as you are moving, they said.

"Being active in a sport is really good for kids' nutrition," said tournament runner-up Gaby Pollner, 11. "It helps with your diet because if you don't eat well, you are not going to do well so you're motivated to eat well."

Jensen also offered some advice to kids on how to stay healthy.

"You have to eat in moderation and you have to exercise," he said. "You have to get off that couch, even if you just walk home from school or ride your bike to and from school, Or take the stairs to your apartment instead of taking the elevator. There are a lot of things you can do to get a cardio workout in your daily life."

For Pollner, tennis is the sport of choice. But any sport will do as long as you are having fun while getting fit, she said.

"Tennis is a good way to stay fit because you are running around a lot and having fun," she said. "When you're having fun, you are going to try hard."

Bottom line? Pick something you enjoy and get moving!

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