Physical activity is essential for lifelong health and well-being. A child
can't be healthy if he or she isn't playing actively or exercising most days of the week.
One of the very best things you can do for your children's health is to help make physical activity a habit—something that will be a natural part of their daily lives through adulthood.
recommend that teens and children (starting at age 6) do moderate to vigorous
activity at least 1 hour every day.1 And 3 or more
days a week, what they choose to do should:
It's okay for them to be active in smaller blocks of time that
add up to 1 hour or more each day.
Children need an hour of vigorous exercise—something that makes them breathe hard—at least 3 times a week.
Children should be active at least 1 hour every day. But at least 3 days a week, that 1 hour of exercise should be vigorous enough to make them breathe hard.
Continue to Why?
Helping your child to be active is one of the very best things you can do for his or her health.
Improving your child's fitness may boost his or
her academic performance, self-esteem, and mental health. It will also help your child avoid becoming overweight, which can lead to many other health problems.
Childhood is the best time to learn healthy habits that can last a lifetime.
Making physical activity a habit will help my child reach or stay at a healthy weight.
Regular physical activity helps children reach or stay at a healthy weight.
Continue to How?
Remember that your child's habits start with you. You are the role model. Your habits affect your children's habits.
If physical activity is a habit for you, it will more likely become a habit for your children.
is important that your children have fun, so don't force them to exercise.
Instead, find activities that they like to do and will do without being asked.
You can help them stay active and healthy if you:
As you make plans to encourage physical activity, think about the problems that might keep your child and family from being physically active. Common things such as bad weather, busy schedules, or just being tired can happen all too easily. Have other options so that you and your child stay active.
It's not important that my child has fun, as long as he or she is getting needed exercise.
It's important that your child has fun, so don't force your child to exercise.
Instead, find activities that he or she likes to do and will do without being asked.
Continue to Where?
Now that you have read this information, you are ready to help your child learn how to get and stay active.
If you have questions about this information, print it out and take it with you when you visit your doctor. You may want to use a highlighter to mark areas or make notes in the margins of the pages where you have questions.
For more information, the following resources are available:
Return to topic:
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2008).
2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans (ODPHP
Publication No. U0036). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.
January 27, 2012
Susan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics
& Catherine D. Serio, PhD - Behavioral Health
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.
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