Physical activity is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. Children need at least 60 minutes of play with moderate to vigorous activity every day to grow up as a healthy weight adult. If this sounds like a lot, consider that children ages 8 to 18 spend an average of 7.5 hours per day viewing TVs, computers, video games, cell phones and movies.
Remember- physical activity can happen anytime and anywhere, even if it’s just 20 or 30 minutes here or there — and you control the clock. Be creative and have fun!
How much physical activity do you need?
Make physical activity fun, cool, and part of a daily routine.
Every little bit counts!
Did you know? Only one-third of high school students get the recommended levels of physical activity.
- For young children ages 2 to 5, there is not a specific recommendation for the number of minutes they should be active each day. Preschoolers should play actively several times each day. Their activity may happen in short bursts of time instead of all at once. Physical activities for young children should be developmentally appropriate, fun and offer variety.
- Kids between 6 and 17 years old need to be active 60 minutes a day at least five days a week. As an alternative, have them count their daily steps using a pedometer (girls’ goal: 11,000 steps; boys’ goal: 13,000 steps).
- Adults ages 18 and older need to be active 30 minutes a day, at least 5 days a week. As an alternative, adults can count their daily activity steps using a pedometer (goal: 8,500 steps).
Getting enough physical activity can:
Children and adolescents should have 60 minutes (1 hour) or more of physical activity daily.
- Aerobic: Most of the 60 or more minutes a day should be either moderate- or vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity and should include vigorous-intensity physical activity at least 3 days a week.
- Muscle-strengthening: As part of their 60 or more minutes of daily physical activity, children and adolescents should include muscle-strengthening physical activity at least 3 days of the week.
- Bone-strengthening: As part of their 60 or more minutes of daily physical activity, children and adolescents should include bone-strengthening physical activity at least 3 days of the week.
- Promote overall mental well-being
- Increase energy and endurance inside and outside of the classroom
- Improve sleep
- Relieve everyday stress and anxiety
- Help lower the risk of chronic diseases
- Help boost confidence
- Improve leadership and social skills
- Teach good sportsmanship
- Promote self-expression
It is important to encourage youth to participate in physical activities that are appropriate for their age, are enjoyable, and offer variety.
There are many creative ways to bring play into your day:
- Create games with pets that encourage running around, like fetch, or just taking them for a walk
- Hold a “Build-a-Snowman Relay Race” in the front yard
- Keep a football or flying disk in the trunk of your car
- Have a family track meet with long jumps, sprints and longer-distance races
- Make an effort to use stairs more often, ride a bike or walk to destinations with your child
- Hire babysitters who say, yes, they like to play tag
- Go to zoos and museums instead of movies, to encourage walking
- Give children toys that encourage physical activity like balls, kites, and jump ropes
- Encourage children to join a sports team or try a new physical activity
- Limit TV time and keep the TV out of a child’s bedroom
- Facilitate a safe walk to and from school a few times a week
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator
- Walk around the block after a meal
- Make a new house rule: no sitting still during television commercials