74% of kids between the ages of 5-10 don’t get enough exercise regularly, based on the recommended guideline of 60 minutes per day. Factor in the fact that we’ve collectively been more sedentary than normal due to the events of the past year and we have a recipe for a generation of kids that may not prioritize movement as much as they should.
So how do we get our kids moving? What does age-appropriate exercise look like for children? How big of a role do fitness and activity play in the overall wellness of a child?
Let’s dig in and answer these questions and more so that you, as a parent or caregiver, can be armed with the information and resources you need to make informed decisions about your children and their health.
Why Exercise is Important for Kids
We all know that some form of exercise and movement is beneficial for our bodies, but what about our kids? Does it benefit them, too?
Of course, it does! Below are just a few of the most important benefits of exercise during childhood:
- Reduced risk of childhood obesity
- Lower blood pressure
- A healthier heart
- Better emotional health
- Increased energy
- Stronger muscles
- Better sleep
How Much Exercise Does My Child Need?
Even if you’re aware that your child can benefit from movement, you might still be a little lost on what that could look like.
How much exercise do children need? Here are some helpful guidelines from the CDC that can guide you:
- Preschool age children (ages 3-5): Encourage physical activity throughout the day by being active while they play. For this age group, it’s more about frequent activity and less about structured exercise.
- School-aged children (Ages 6-17): Children in this age group should aim to get around 60 minutes or more of moderate-intensity activity each day. This activity should include a mixture of aerobic activity and strength-building activity.
What Kinds of Physical Activity Should Children Do?
If you’re ready to help your kids get up, get moving, and create a lifelong love and appreciation for daily movement, you can use these physical activity recommendations as a starting point.
The bulk of your child’s daily physical activity should be aerobic in nature. These activities can include things like walking, running, jumping, or any other movement that increases their heart rate.
Muscle and Bone-Strengthening
Children ages 6 and up should include muscle-strengthening activities like climbing, squats, and push-ups at least 3 times per week as part of their recommended 60 minutes of physical activity per day.
Age Appropriate Physical Activity Ideas
As parents or caregivers to young children, we have a lot on our plates. From making sure that your child eats a nutritionally balanced diet to ensuring that they’re fitting in enough physical activity each day - and it can feel overwhelming quickly!
Here are a few ideas to help you encourage your child to get up, get moving, and enjoy physical activity:
- Take them on a walk
- Go for a bike ride
- Jump on the trampoline
- Play hide and seek
- Practice a sport
- Set Up an obstacle course
- Try hula hooping
- Design a scavenger hunt
- Blow bubbles and challenge your child to pop them before they burst
- Go rock climbing
- Find a hiking trail
- Take a swim
- Set up a relay race
- Do a yoga class
- Find a kid-appropriate YouTube workout
- Try roller skating
- Have a dance party
There are so many ways to encourage your child to incorporate more movement into their day. It doesn’t have to be complicated and it doesn’t have to be structured! The more time that kids are up and on their feet, the better. Little bits of activity add up throughout the day.
The number one goal is to make it fun. Find activities that your child enjoys and encourage them to do them often. And, if possible, get involved, too! Your kids will love interacting with you and seeing that movement and exercise is a part of your life as well.
Prioritizing Kids Wellness
Fitness and daily activity are just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to the overall health and wellness of our children. The other pieces include things like proper nutrition, hydration, sleep, and fostering healthy relationships with themselves and others.
If your child struggles with nutrition (hello, picky eaters!) supplementing their diet with a high-quality multivitamin can help to fill in those gaps. Fit Healthy Momma’s review of Hiya Health’s vitamins for kids covers everything you need to know about ensuring your child is taking a vitamin that will promote overall wellness and healthy development.