According to the National Children and Youth Fitness Study, at least half of children do not participate in physical activity that promotes long-term health. Exercise is an important part of keeping kids healthy. The best way for your child to build a healthy lifestyle is for your whole family to get involved. The following exercise guidelines can help your family plan activities.

Light intensity aerobic activities for 30 minutes a day can begin to help a child’s body. These activities include walking, climbing stairs, household chores, noncompetitive sports and dancing.

Moderate intensity aerobic activities for 30 to 60 minutes a day begin to push kids and their parents to increase heart and breathing rates and get sweaty.  Rollerblading, hiking, yard work and bike riding are family-friendly activities.

Vigorous intensity aerobic activities done three or four times a week for 30 to 60 minutes are the best ways to improve your fitness level. Aerobic activities challenge kids and parents to get their hearts pumping. These types of activities include running, swimming, cross-country skiing, jumping rope, flag football, soccer and tag games.

Bone strengthening activities (jumping jacks, playing tag and dancing) and muscle strengthening activities (sit-ups, push-ups and playground equipment climbing) should be completed at least three times a week.

Benefits of physical activities include improved flexibility, strong muscles and bones, weight loss and increased energy levels. For kids, physical activity can be a great break between the busy school day and afterschool homework. Their focus on homework and projects will be better after completing physical activity.  It is recommended that daily physical activity be completed before any screen time is allowed.

Here are some ideas for adding a physical activity routine to your family schedule:
•    Make time to go to the playground.
•    Have a scavenger hunt during a walk.
•    Track your distance on a bike ride or walk. Try to beat it each time.
•    Look for animals during a hike.
•    Make an obstacle course in your backyard.
•    Check your local newspaper for community activities and events.

Let us know what fun things you do to make physical activity more enjoyable for your family. Leave a comment below!

~ Stacy Stolzman, MPT, physical therapist, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin

If you enjoyed this blog, you may want to read Get Moving!

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