Exercise and Children
Exercise is an important part of keeping children healthy. Encouraging healthy lifestyles in kids and teens is vital for when they grow older. Habits that are learned in childhood are more likely to stay with them into adulthood. Some changes in lifestyle can be hard to make the older a person gets. The best way to promote a healthy lifestyle is for the whole family to be involved.
Creating an exercise plan
Daily exercise is a fun way to share activity with family and friends. And it helps create good heart-healthy habits. The guidelines below can help you and your child plan activities:
Children ages 3 to 5. They should be physically active throughout the day. This can include being active when they play. They should move and be active in a variety of activities. Examples are bicycle or tricycle riding, throwing games, and hopping, skipping, and jumping. This helps growth and development.
Children ages 6 to 17. They should do at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity each day. This should include aerobic exercise. Examples are bicycling or jumping rope. They should do bone-strengthening activities. These include running or jumping. And they should do muscle-strengthening activities. Examples are climbing or resistance exercises. These all help to maintain good health and fitness. And it helps kids stay at a healthy weight as they grow.
Even doing low-to-medium intensity activities for as little as 30 minutes a day can be helpful. These activities include:
Limit your child’s screen time. This includes cell phones, tablets, TV, video games, and computers. Replace these with activities that need more movement.
Regular aerobic activity increases a child’s ability for exercise. It can help prevent heart disease and type 2 diabetes and help lower blood pressure. Aerobic means activities that raise the heart rate and breathing rate.
Make sure your child drinks fluids often during physical activity. This is to prevent too much water loss from the body (dehydration). Have them drink several glasses of water or other fluids with no added sugar after the physical activity is done.
Examples of aerobic activities include:
Rollerblading or roller skating
Playing on the playground
Benefits of regular physical activity
These are just some of the benefits of physical activity:
Improves blood flow throughout the body
Keeps weight under control
Improves blood cholesterol levels
Prevents and manages high blood pressure
Prevents bone loss
Boosts energy level
Improves the ability to fall asleep quickly and sleep well
Helps manage stress
Counters anxiety and depression
Increases enthusiasm and optimism
Increases muscle strength
When to talk to a healthcare provider
Exercising on a regular basis is part of a healthy lifestyle. But some children may exercise too much. Talk with your child’s healthcare provider if:
Your child begins losing weight and falls below expected growth patterns
Exercise gets in the way of other normal activities, including school
Online Medical Reviewer: Dan Brennan MDRaymond Turley Jr PA-CStacey Wojcik MBA BSN RN
Date Last Reviewed: 8/1/2023
© 2000-2023 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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