Physical activity has many benefits, including the following:
More children and teens are overweight or obese now than ever before. Regular exercise can help prevent serious health problems associated with overweight and obesity.
Children 2 years of age and older need at least 60 minutes of exercise each day. This doesn’t have to be done all at one time. It can be accomplished throughout the day in shorter bouts of activity.
Celebrate with … action! Instead of a sugary cake, celebrate milestones with an active family activity, such as a hike, swimming excursion or volleyball game. This is one way you can begin to build activity into your family’s lifestyle.
Be a healthy role model for your child. Exercise or stay physically active in your daily life, and plan active family outings.
Encourage—but don’t pressure—your child to get involved in team or group activities. Some children enjoy the social aspects of being on a team, such as soccer, gymnastics, basketball, t-ball or softball, bowling, and dancing. Other children may feel pressured or embarrassed in a team environment and prefer other types of group activities such as playing jump rope, tag, or hide and seek.
Activities that can be done alone may appeal to other children. Examples of these include riding a bike, playing on a jungle gym, playing with the family pet, jumping on a trampoline, walking, skating or swimming.
When it comes to physical activity, there is something for everyone. With a little trial and error, you can help your child find an activity that is a good fit for his or her personality.
Screen time includes watching television or DVDs, playing video or computer games and surfing the Internet. These activities are usually done while sitting or standing still. Try to limit your child’s total screen time to no more than 1 to 2 hours each day. And remember – you’re a role model for your child. Set a good example by limiting your screen time too.
Some newer video gaming systems include low levels of physical activity, such as games that mimic the motions of dancing, bowling, tennis and other sports. Although playing these games is better than sitting still, it’s best to include these video games in your screen-time limits. After your child has reached his or her screen-time limit, encourage your child to actually to dance, bowl and play tennis or other sports.
Another way to include physical activity in screen time is to encourage your child to be active while watching a show or playing a video game. For example, he or she can do jumping jacks during commercials, or jump rope or otherwise stay in motion while enjoying a program.
This content was developed with general underwriting support from The Coca-Cola Company.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity. National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Physical Activity for Everyone: How much physical activity do children need?. Accessed January 14, 2011
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Tips for Parents—Ideas to Help Children Maintain a Healthy Weight. Accessed January 14, 2011
National Diabetes Education Program. Tips for Teens with Diabetes: Be Active. Accessed January 14, 2011
National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. National Institutes of Health. We Can! Get Active. Accessed January 14, 2011
Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff