Tomorrow, November 17, 2016, is National “Take a Hike” Day. This is a great time to recharge and think about just how active our kids should be and why this is important. As adults, we think of exercise as going to the gym, running on the treadmill, or taking an aerobics class. For kids, exercise just means being physically active such as playing. Kids participate in being active through gym class, recess, playing outside with their friends, and participating in organized sports.
The Benefits of Being Active
Children who are physically active:
- are less likely to become overweight
- have a decreased risk of developing type 2 diabetes
- have lower blood pressure and reduced risk of heart disease
- have lower cholesterol
- have a leaner body and less body fat
- have stronger muscles and bones
- have improved flexibility
- have better sleep
- have more energy
- are better able to handle physical and emotional challenges
How Much Exercise Does My Child Need?
Children age 6 and older need at least 60 minutes or more of daily physical activity. The 60 minutes of physical activity does not have to be continuous and can be broken up, such as 10 minutes of jump roping, 30 minutes of recess, and 20 minutes of walking to and from school.
Preschool age children require two hours of daily physical activity. Toddlers require one-and-a-half hours of daily physical activity.
How Do I Help My Child Be Active?
Limit Screen Time
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting total screen time to no more than two hours a day in children age 2 and older and no screen time for children younger than age 2.
Explore Different Sports
Every child is different. Some prefer organized team sports and others prefer individual activities such as:
- martial arts
Look Beyond Sports to Help Your Child Be More Active
Not every child enjoys individual or team sports. Other ideas to help keep your child active include:
- jump roping
- playing on the playground
- dancing in the bedroom
- raking leaves
- mowing the lawn
Lead by Example
- Parents who are active tend to raise children who are active
- Make it fun! Activity can be as simple as walking the dog together, taking a neighborhood bike ride, going to the mall but parking as far as possible to the entrance and walking, and taking the stairs instead of the elevator
- Explore fun hikes in your area together as a family; check out www.trails.com
Make it a goal tomorrow to recharge and help your child become active!