You know it’s a good idea for your kids to stay active. But just how much physical activity is enough when it comes to staying healthy and growing strong?
You’re probably familiar with the recommendation that adults get at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week. But while exercise is important for everyone, it’s especially important for kids. Regular physical activity at a young age helps set children up for a lifetime of good health.
When it comes to how much activity your kids need, the guidelines are simple. Kids age 2 and older need at least 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity activity every day.
Let’s take a look at why that’s so important — and how to make it happen.
Understanding the benefits of exercise for kids
The most obvious benefit of regular physical activity is that it helps kids grow and develop into healthy adults.
Studies have found that overweight or obese children are more likely to stay overweight or obese as adults. But children who get the recommended amount of daily activity are much less likely to become obese in the first place.
The benefits go well beyond physical health. Children who are physically active regularly do better academically in reading and math, and they’re more likely to behave well in the classroom.
Physical activity also helps kids develop sharp senses, including sight, sound and touch, along with balance and coordination.
Exercise obviously helps with physical development, but it’s also been shown to boost cognitive development. And it has been tied to reduced instances of both depression and anxiety in kids.
How to make exercise fun for kids
You know all about this — when your workout is boring, you’re less likely to get it done. But that problem is magnified for kids.
In order to make physical activity a normal part of their lives, it needs to be interesting and fun. So, what can you do to make that a reality?
Well, one key way that kids can fit physical activity into their day is making it a part of their playtime. Limit your children’s time doing sedentary activities, like playing computer or video games, watching TV, or playing on a smartphone or tablet.
Instead, encourage them to use their imagination and invent games and activities that involve movement. When you were little, didn’t you play outside? Send your little ones into the backyard and let them build forts, play games or swing on a swing set.
They don’t need to get all their activity for the day in one gulp, either. You may not have 60 minutes to devote to activity, but four 15-minute periods may be more doable.
Still not sure how you can help your kids get enough activity? Bring the whole family into it.
Kids are more likely to develop healthy habits and stick with them if they see their parents modeling those habits. So regularly incorporate activities for your family that include being active.
Maybe that’s a walk around the neighborhood, maybe it’s picking apples at an orchard, maybe it’s playing a game of Twister in the living room — it doesn’t matter what you choose as long as it gets the entire family active!
Participating in sports is one way kids can get the recommended amount of physical activity. Before your child gears up for a new season, schedule a checkup with your pediatrician. Find one here.