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When I was a kid, my friends and I were outside all summer long. We rode our bikes, jumped on the tramp, made obstacle courses, had waterfights…we were seriously outside all day! I loved it! And if anyone wanted to go inside to watch a movie or play Super Nintendo (yes Super Nintendo:) ), I was so bored! It’s crazy how things have changed. I hardly ever see children playing outside anymore. I know that many children are involved in a lot of extra curricular activities and are super busy, but I also know that a lot of kids nowadays would rather watch television or play video games, no matter how hard their parents try to get them outside! Many parents wonder if their children are getting enough physical activity and exercise.

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When we think of exercise and physical activity recommendations for health, many of us just think about adults and why adults should get exercise. Children need to be physically active also! It is soooo important to make sure that our children are active and getting the needed “run around” time. I’m not saying that they should hit the gym and pump some iron, but they do need to run, jump, climb and play to stay active and prevent diseases later in their life. Here is the 411 on children’s physical activity recommendations:

Children and adolescents should get 60 minutes (1 hour) or more of physical activity each day.

This may sound like a lot, but don’t worry! Your child may already be meeting the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans by participating in PE, sports, playing outside with friends, or any activity where they are being physically active. Encourage participation in activities that are age-appropriate, enjoyable and offer variety! Just make sure they are doing three types of physical activity:

1. Aerobic Activity

Aerobic activity should make up most of your child’s 60 or more minutes of physical activity each day. This can include either moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as brisk walking, or vigorous-intensity activity, such as running. Anything that gets their heart pumping!

2. Muscle Strengthening

Include muscle strengthening activities, such as gymnastics, push-ups, climbing, etc. at least 3 days per week as part of your child’s 60 or more minutes.

3. Bone Strengthening

Include bone strengthening activities, such as jumping rope or running, at least 3 days per week as part of your child’s 60 or more minutes.

*Remember that any physical activity is better than none! Encourage your children to get outside and be active! Go on a walk, jog, hike, bike ride, or swim with them! Dance, gymnastics, soccer, basketball, volleyball, cheerleading, and all other sports are also great ways to get their exercise in!

Benefits of Regular Physical Activity for Children:

  • Helps build and maintain healthy bones and muscles
  • Helps reduce the risk of developing obesity and chronic diseases, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and colon cancer
  • Reduces feelings of depression and anxiety and promotes psychological well-being
  • May help improve students’ academic performance, including
    • Academic achievement and grades
    • Academic behavior, such as time on task
    • Factors that influence academic achievement, such as concentration and attentiveness in the classroom.

Everyone can gain the health benefits of physical activity – age, ethnicity, shape or size do not matter! Just encourage them to get their bodies moving and have fun!

*Information taken from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

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Lets all encourage our children to be physically active! Go with your child on a bike ride, hike or walk! Have fun with them! Let’s help make this next generation happy and healthy!

-McKell

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