Exercise and Children
Do children and teens get enough exercise?
Recent studies show that only about one-third of American kids 6 and older get enough exercise each day. Many blame this on increased screen time, busy lifestyles and changes such as more traffic and less open spaces in which to play. We also know that nearly one in three children in the United States are overweight and children also become less active every year they get older.
How much exercise does my child need?
Preschoolers need lots of active play time. For this age, the goal is at least 3 hours (180 minutes) of active play each day. Your preschooler should play every hour throughout the day for about 15 minutes at a time. Grade-school children and teens need to be active at least 60 minutes each day. Getting more than an hour is good, too. The 60 minutes do not have to be all at one time. It’s OK to break the activity into 10- or 15-minute segments. A variety of activities is best. Help your child choose aerobic, muscle-strengthening and bone strengthening activities that are right for their age and development.
Here are examples of the three kinds of exercise:
Aerobic exercise: Running, bicycling, hiking, tag, jumping rope, martial arts, basketball, swimming, tennis, skateboarding, dancing, sweeping.
Muscle-strengthening exercise: Push-ups, sit-ups, rope climbing, swinging on monkey bars, tug-of-war, rock climbing, weight lifting, resistance exercises.
Bone-strengthening exercise: Hopping; skipping; jumping; running; sports such as basketball, tennis and volleyball.
What are the benefits of being active?
- Increased confidence.
- Increased strength and coordination. Active kids sleep better at night, are more alert during the day and perform better in school.
- Weight control and decreased risk of diabetes, heart disease and other health conditions. Kids and teens who are fit are more likely to be fit as adults.
How can I help my child get more exercise?
Make changes in your daily routine to include exercise for your whole family. Remember that your children see you as the model; they will do what you do.