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How Much Physical Activity Do Kids Need?

Recently we have seen a rise of diseases in children that in the past had only been seen in adults. Things like obesity, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure are being seen more frequently in children. One of the best ways to combat the rise of these diseases is to make sure that your kids are getting enough physical activity.

The Department of Health and Human Services has developed guidelines recommending that youth ages 6-17 participate in 60 minutes or more of physical activity 7 days/ week. This is total activity time, so 1 hour, 2 30 minute sessions, or 4 sessions of 15 minutes each in a day would all satisfy this recommendation. Most of this activity should be at either moderate or vigorous intensity.

An easy way to distinguish vigorous vs moderate intensity exercise is as follows:

Moderate intensity allows you to talk but not sing during or right after activity

Vigorous intensity allows you to say only a few words at a time

As part of the 60 minutes daily, it is recommended that children participate in muscle strengthening activities 3 days/wk and bone strengthening activities 3 days/wk. Some activities that would fit into these categories are listed below:

Muscle Strengthening Activities

  1. Games like tug of war
  2. Climbing playground equipment
  3. Push ups, pull ups, or sit ups
  4. Activities like crab walking, bear walking, or wheelbarrow with a partner

Bone Strengthening Activities

  1. Hopscotch
  2. Jumping rope
  3. Skipping
  4. Sports that include jumping like basketball or volleyball

To get and keep kids participating, physical activity should be fun and incorporated into playful activities that are age appropriate. Being involved in physical education in school is important, especially if children are not involved in extracurricular activities that meet the requirements. Summer camps can be a great way to keep kids active during summer vacation.

For more information check out:

  1. https://health.gov/paguidelines/midcourse/youth-fact-sheet.pdf
  2. https://www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/physicalactivity/facts.htm

Article via Private Practice Section and American Physical Therapy Association