From improving physical health to boosting mental health and even test scores, regular physical activity can offer a bounty of benefits for kids of all ages. Read on to learn how much exercise your child needs — and check out some simple activities to get them moving in the right direction!
How much exercise do kids need?
Exercise recommendations for children vary according to age. There is no set activity requirement for kids between the ages of three and five. However, regular physical activity throughout the day can aid preschool-aged children’s growth and development.
Kids ages six through 17 should strive to engage in at least an hour of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity daily, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). School-aged children and adolescents may benefit from:
- Aerobic exercises (e.g., walking, cycling, dancing, swimming) daily
- Bone-strengthening exercises (e.g., running, jumping) three times a week
- Muscle-building exercises (e.g., climbing, push-ups) three times a week
To help avoid injury, please ensure that your child warms up properly prior to exercising and cools down immediately afterward. They should also wear proper attire and protective equipment (e.g., running shoes, helmet, wrist guards) and learn the correct technique for any activities in which they plan to participate.
To help prevent dehydration and sunburn, make sure your son or daughter drinks plenty of water before, during and after physical activity and always applies (and reapplies) sunscreen when exercising outdoors.
Kids workout ideas
Want to help your child establish an exercise routine, but not sure where to begin? The key is to start off slowly and help them identify activities that seem less like less work and more like play.
Following are some simple and fun ideas to motivate your son or daughter to get moving:*
- Walking. Encourage your child to walk to and from school or their bus stop. Or, persuade them to walk around the block (with or without a dog!).
- Running. Help your kiddo plot a safe running route through your neighborhood or a nearby park. Set a timer to see if they can pick up the pace and beat their best previous time!
- Jumping jacks. Get their heart rate pumping with good, old-fashioned jumping jacks. Ask them how many jumping jacks they think they are capable of and challenge them to exceed their own expectations!
- Grab the chalk and create a hopscotch board on the driveway or sidewalk. Encourage your child to invite friends to join in the fun!
- Follow the leader. Put your kid through the paces as you engage in a series of exercise challenges, ranging from sit ups and pushups to squats and crab walks. The possibilities are endless!
- Tag can help kids burn off energy while improving their agility, coordination and spatial awareness. Plus, it’s just plain fun!
- Roller skating and ice skating are excellent activities for children looking to change their sedentary ways. And if your child develops a love for either skating style, it can become a lifelong hobby.
- Organized sports. Soccer, softball, baseball, basketball, football, cheerleading, volleyball, tennis… the list goes on and on. In addition to promoting regular physical activity, organized sports teach children social skills, self-discipline and, of course, teamwork!
By the way, feel free to join your son or daughter in any of the activities listed above. After all, one of the best ways to get your kid more engaged in physical activity is to model the behavior yourself!
*If your child has any known health issues, please consult a pediatrician before he or she begins a new exercise regimen. Also, please note that younger children may require supervision during these activities. In addition, please follow all government guidelines concerning COVID-19.