Physical activity is good for everyone. For children, it promotes growth and development and should be encouraged on most days. At least 60 minutes of activity a day helps older children and adolescents grow strong bones and muscles, build endurance, and maintain a healthy weight. There is also evidence that physical activity helps children learn and become better thinkers.
Developing good habits starts during childhood. Children that engage in regular physical activity will likely keep it up throughout their lives.
Children need to be active!
- Aim to have your children engage in at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day. This can be broken up into smaller chunks, for example, 30 minutes twice a day.
- Children need both free play and specific instruction on physical skills. When school is open, physical education is part of the school day, but when school is out or canceled, block off time every day for your kids to engage in physical activity.
- When school is in session, have your children walk or bike to and from school. When school is not in session, walk or bike with your kids when you can and organize family walking or bicycling trips around the block.
Establish a Family Routine:
- Present physical activity as an important part of taking care of your body and health, rather than a chore. If your children see that you are enjoying time being active, they will be more likely to model your behavior.
- The best way to begin increasing your family’s physical activity is to schedule a time for it. Start by identifying at least three 30-minute time slots for activities like taking a walk, playing sports, or doing active chores.
- Be Flexible. If a conflict comes up during physical activity time, reschedule instead of canceling. Find a new time for the activity to replace what you missed.
- Before you know it, physical activity will become part of your routine.
- Play tag, swim, jump rope, hopscotch, dodge ball, hula-hoop, badminton, ice skating, roller skating, play catch, walk the dog, go for a jog, go on a bike ride or head to the park.
- Play house games such as Simon Says, Twister, interactive video games, or even a dance party.
- Celebrate special occasions, such as birthdays and holidays with something active, such as a hike, a volleyball or soccer game, or playing Frisbee at the park.
- Get the whole family involved in household chores like cleaning, vacuuming, and yard work.
- Walk instead of drive whenever you can. If you have to drive, find a spot at the far end of the parking lot and walk to where you’re going.
- Train as a family for a charitable walk or run.
- The ideas are endless…!