Physical activity is good for kids. It helps to control weight, reduce blood pressure, and increase HDL (the good kind of cholesterol). It reduces the risk of getting diabetes and some kinds of cancer, and it improves emotional well-being by improving confidence and self-esteem.
How much physical activity do our little darlings need? Current U.S. guidelines suggest 60 minutes or more daily is a good goal for children.
Aerobic activity—the kind of exercise that gets your heart pumping, such as walking or running—should make up most of the 60 or more minutes per day.
Muscle strengthening should also be a part of the child’s day at least 3 days per week. This would include activities such as gymnastics, climbing trees or playing on a jungle gym.
Activities that strengthen bones, such as jumping rope or running, should also be included at least 3 days per week.
Children are naturally active. They don’t need to lift weights or run on a treadmill to get their exercise or strengthen their muscles. They’ll easily meet their targets for physical activity when they have opportunity for breaks throughout the day to play vigorously at activities that are appropriate for their age, gender, and level of physical and emotional development.
To promote physical activity for your kids, limit the amount of time they spend watching television and playing video games and make physical activity fun.
As a parent (and you knew this was coming), role-model an active lifestyle and provide opportunities for your kids to increase their physical activity.