Why is exercise so important for children?
Physical activity has many benefits, including the following:
- It helps burn calories instead of storing them as body fat. This means it helps children maintain a healthy weight and reduces the risk of being overweight or obese.
- It helps keep blood sugar levels more balanced and in a normal healthy range. This is especially important for children who have or are at risk for diabetes.
- It lowers blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
- It helps make bones and muscles strong, and it builds strength and endurance.
- It relieves stress and improves sleep and mental health.
- It can boost self-esteem by helping children feel more confident and better about their bodies and appearance.
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.
How much exercise does my child need?
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.
What can I do to encourage my child to be active?
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.
Why is limiting screen time important?
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.
What’s wrong with this picture
- On average, 8- to 18-year-olds spend 4 hours watching TV, videos, DVDs and prerecorded shows; more than 1 hour on the computer; and almost 1 hour playing video games
- Two out of every 3 kids have a TV in their bedrooms
- Kids who have TVs in their rooms spend almost 1 ½ hours or more a day watching TV than kids who don’t have a TV in their
Are there ways to make screen time more active?
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.
See a list of resources used in the development of this information.
Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff