Pediatric Rehab Care for the Tri-State Area

How Much Daily Exercise Do Children Need?

How Much Daily Exercise Do Children Need?

Why is exercise important for kids?

As children grow and develop, exercise plays a crucial role in their physical and mental well-being. Regular exercise not only helps children maintain a healthy weight but also improves their cardiovascular health, strengthens their bones and muscles, and boosts their mood and cognitive abilities. But just how much exercise do children need on a daily basis? In this blog, we will explore the recommended guidelines for daily exercise for children.

National Guidelines

The American Heart Association recommends that children between the ages of 6 and 17 engage in at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day. This can include activities such as running, swimming, biking or playing sports. However, it is important to note that the 60 minutes can be broken up into smaller increments throughout the day, such as two 30-minute sessions or four 15-minute sessions. For younger children, aged 3 to 5, the recommendation is a little different. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that preschool-aged children engage in at least 3 hours of physical activity per day. This can include activities such as playing on the playground, dancing or riding a tricycle. The CDC also recommends that parents limit the amount of sedentary screen time for children in this age group.

What are the types of physical activities for kids?

In addition to the recommended amount of physical activity, it is important to consider the type of exercise that children engage in. A well-rounded exercise routine should include a combination of aerobic exercise, muscle-strengthening activities, and bone-strengthening activities. Aerobic exercise, also known as cardio, is any activity that raises the heart rate and increases breathing. This can include running, biking, swimming, or playing sports. Aerobic exercise helps improve cardiovascular health and endurance, as well as burn calories and maintain a healthy weight. Muscle-strengthening activities include any exercise that targets the major muscle groups, such as the legs, arms, back, and abdomen. These activities can include push-ups, sit-ups, squats, or lifting weights. Muscle-strengthening exercises help improve muscle strength and endurance, as well as overall fitness. Bone-strengthening activities include any exercise that promotes bone growth and density, such as jumping, running, or playing sports like basketball or tennis. These activities help improve bone health and reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis later in life.

What if my child doesn’t like exercise?

It is important to note that not all children will enjoy the same types of exercise, and that’s okay. Encourage your child to find activities that they enjoy and that are appropriate for their age and fitness level. This could include organized sports, dance classes, or simply playing outside with friends. In addition to the physical benefits, regular exercise also provides numerous mental health benefits for children. Exercise has been shown to improve mood, reduce anxiety and depression, and improve cognitive function and academic performance. Encouraging your child to exercise regularly can help them develop a lifelong habit of physical activity and promote a healthy and active lifestyle.

What if my child has developmental or physical issues preventing them from exercising?

It is important to note that children with disabilities or chronic health conditions may require modifications to their exercise routine. Therefore, it is important to work with a healthcare provider or physical therapist to develop an appropriate exercise plan for these children. At Excellence Rehab, we excel at making sure your child has an exercise plan that they are capable of completing and enjoying.

Are there indoor physical activities for kids?

Unfortunately, it is impossible to always have good weather outside. These days, whether you live in the cold of the northeast, or the extreme heat of Arizona, you may find it challenging to find physical activities for kids. At this point, it is critical to get creative. Regardless of the weather, children still need exercise. Thankfully, children can be relatively simple to please. Whether it is as simple as playing Simon says and incorporating exercises such as jumping jacks or push-ups, or as extravagant as creating an obstacle course using furniture, you will have to find ways to keep your children entertained. There are also several alternatives such as indoor trampoline parks, and your local gym to play sports. These are some of the best ways to combat the weather when it will not cooperate!

Is there anything else I should know about besides exercise?

In addition to regular exercise, it is important to encourage healthy habits for children such as a healthy diet and adequate sleep. Eating a balanced diet that includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats can provide children with the necessary nutrients to support their growth and development. Adequate sleep is also crucial for children as it helps support their physical and mental health.

Are there risks if my child does not exercise?

We have talked at length about the benefits of exercise, without addressing the risks if children do not. Unfortunately, the list is extensive. Children who do not exercise may be prone to developing obesity, depression, and various health problems. These are issues that may plague them not only in their childhood but throughout the rest of their life. It is therefore critical to set them up with healthy exercise habits that promote them to be the best version of themselves.

In summary, children should engage in at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per day, with a combination of aerobic, muscle-strengthening, and bone-strengthening activities. For preschool-aged children, the recommendation is at least 3 hours. The importance of exercise and overall lifestyle for children can not be understated.

What if I have more questions? Contact the professionals at Excellence Rehab! 

At Excellence Rehab, we are leaders in caring about your child from a physical, mental, and social perspective. Through our patient-centered approach, we recognize that each child is different and therefore deserves their own treatment plan. If you have questions, please contact us. We look forward to discussing our many techniques to get your child to be the best version of themselves!