Exercise for Kids
As a parent, you probably view exercise as another item on your to-do list. It requires hitting the gym or deliberately setting aside time to move.
Exercise for kids, on the other hand, usually involves movement that’s fun. It’s playtime — as it should be. But in today’s technology age, many kids aren’t moving enough. Video games, smartphones and binge-worthy TV shows have taken over playtime.
Since 1975, researchers note a 5% decrease in children's aerobic fitness. Reports further show children bike, walk and skate less than they did in the 1970s. And interestingly, adult aerobic health has decreased similarly. For adults, exercise reduces one's risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke. For kids, physical activity provides happiness, proper development and future prevention of such diseases. Inevitably, it’s important. Are your kids getting enough of it?
The Importance of Exercise for Your Kids
Movement is important for your child to properly develop, as well as for their current and future health and well-being. During your kids’ younger years, physical activity and movement helps them evolve, develop and refine their motor skills. As they grow up, exercise is important for their overall health. Benefits of exercise for kids include:
- A stronger and healthier heart
- Reduced risk of heart attack, stroke or diabetes
- Increased lung capacity
- Regulated blood sugar levels
- Weight maintenance
- Strong bones
- Increased energy levels
- Improved mood
- Increased concentration
- Decreased stress
- And more!
Exercise also provides an opportunity for your children to socialize and have fun. The goal is to make it feel like anything but a chore. This encourages your kids to develop healthy habits as they grow into adults.
Find activities, such as recreational sports or games, your child enjoys. You want them to look forward to participating in physical activity, not dreading it.
How Much Exercise Do Your Kids Need?
The amount of exercise your kids need depends on their age. For children aged three to five years, experts recommend they move throughout the day for proper development. As a parent, you need to encourage this movement and playtime. For children aged six years and older, health departments recommend an hour of exercise per day, with at least three sessions of vigorous activity per week. This may include a wide variety of activities from organized sports to outdoor play with friends.
What Type of Exercise is Best?
Various activities work well to ensure your kids stay active. For instance, playground activities such as jumping rope, hopscotch or climbing the play structures, cover most aerobic and strength aspects. Signing your child up for recreational sports is also a great way to encourage physical activity, as well as socialization. It won’t only help them move, but also will teach them valuable skills regarding teamwork and fairness.
You can also discover family-joint adventures that promote movement. You can walk to the library to take out books if they enjoy reading. You can go for a walk or hike to collect leaves and small rocks for arts and crafts projects. You can play a family game of tag to get your whole troupe moving.
For children under six years of age, water-based activities or stimulating movement activities with toys might work best. As they get older, use your discretion as to what is safe or not. You could also go off what age toy brands recommend their products are best suited for.
More examples to keep your kids active include scooters, biking, throw and catch, trampolining, walking the dog, frisbee, martial arts, rollerblading and more. You could even create a fun family obstacle course in your own backyard. Many communities also have activities listed at the local community or recreation center — check them out, there’s a ton of options. Again, it’s all about finding a few types of activities that your children truly enjoy.
How to Ensure Your Kids Are Exercising Properly
Usually, your kids’ annual check-up at the doctor’s office tells all. If they’re healthy and have a healthy weight, they’re likely getting enough exercise.
You also want to make sure that no matter what activity your child is participating in, that they wear the right protective gear and the right footwear. Limit risk and injuries where you can. Take into account any medical conditions that could affect their safety when participating in a specific activity or sport. Encourage your kids to move by setting a good example; show them how much fun it can be!
Encourage Movement Early on for Good Health in the Future
You want the best for your kids. As such, promoting a healthy lifestyle from a young age is a top priority. Guide them toward a healthy and fulfilling life. Encourage it. Physical activity is part of that. In turn, your kids will be less likely to encounter a life-threatening disease now or down the road. They’ll grow from strong, healthy and agile children into resilient, successful and happy adults.