700 Children's® – A Blog by Pediatric Experts

Exercise as Medicine: What's Your Child's Dose?

Jun 24, 2016

If you knew you could help prevent diseases by taking medicine, you likely would. Well, have you ever thought of exercise as medicine? Daily moderate to vigorous exercise, a spectrum of sweating to breathlessness, is good for a child’s mind, and body.

Exercise is known to prevent or modify chronic diseases such as:

  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Cancer

So, if you think of exercise as preventative medicine, how much should your child’s “dose” be? The typical prescription would be Rx: 60 minutes and Quantity: 7 days a week.

If you think 60 minutes, 7 days a week sounds like a lot, you should know that “dose” is the ultimate goal for all children ages 5 years through 18 years of age. This recommendation is endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), Center for Disease Control (CDC), and the World Health Organization (WHO).

If you find it difficult for your child to dedicate 60 continuous minutes a day, don’t worry – it can be broken up into 10 minute increments, or doses, 6 times a day. Every family should tailor their exercise prescription to meet their child’s needs. Some helpful questions a family could use to design their child’s prescription:

  • Who will be my my child’s activity/exercise buddy?
  • What are the goals of my child’s daily exercise?
  • What activity or activities can my child do?
  • When can my child be active (include time of day for each day)?
  • Where can my child do these activities?
  • How can I vary my child’s activity so she stays interested in exercising?

There is no better time than the present to design an exercise prescription for your child and family. The initiative Exercise is Medicine was co-launched in 2007 by the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Medical Association. Please visit www.exerciseismedicine.org for more information.

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Amy E. Valasek, MD, MSc
Sports Medicine

Amy Elizabeth Valasek, MD, MSc is a physician for Nationwide Children’s Hospital Sports Medicine and an assistant professor in the department of pediatrics at The Ohio State University College of Medicine. She is fellowship trained and board certified in sports medicine.

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700 Children’s® features the most current pediatric health care information and research from our pediatric experts – physicians and specialists who have seen it all. Many of them are parents and bring a special understanding to what our patients and families experience. If you have a child – or care for a child – 700 Children’s was created especially for you.