The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children age six and older get a minimum of 60 minutes of exercise per day to build healthy bones and lean muscles, reduce fat, develop coordination, improve motor skills and promote emotional well-being.
I would add that making exercise a part of your family’s daily activities will instill in your children good health habits that will last a lifetime. Be a good role model by demonstrating that you consider physical activity to be an important part of your own daily life: schedule workouts, get a fitness tracker, park a distance from the grocery store door, take the stairs instead of the elevator, walk to the park, ride bikes with your kids.
It’s important to note that the 60 minutes of exercise recommended by the AAP does not have to be done all at once. It can be broken down into shorter blocks of time. According to the AAP, “20 minutes of walking to and from school, 10 minutes of jumping rope, and 30 minutes of playground time all add up to 60 minutes of physical activity.”
The AAP also states that the physical activity should be “moderate to vigorous.” For an activity to be considered “vigorous,” children should be breathing hard and breaking a sweat.
Try to match activities with your child’s interests. If your child hates basketball, pushing her to spend time on the court will probably be a disaster. But if she loves dance, it might not be hard at all to get her to jam to the beat of her favorite music.
Explore activities as a family and find out which ones your child enjoys most. Here are some examples of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise:
- Brisk walking (could include walking the dog)
- Bicycle riding
- Dancing (can also be vigorous)
- Martial arts (can also be vigorous)
Here are some examples of vigorous-intensity aerobic activities:
- Bicycle riding
- Games such as tag
- Ice or field hockey
- Jump roping
Make fitness a family affair! If you are active and having fun with exercise and physical activity, your child will too.