As parents, most of us like to think we know what’s important when it comes to our children’s health. We know diet is important and we know that they should be getting regular exercise. With so many government initiatives out there to stem the spread of childhood obesity, we’re pretty clued up when it comes to our little ones’ health, right? Making sure your child is getting the right food is relatively simple and well publicized – 5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day, and put a hold on the sweets and fried stuff. But why is exercise important for kids? How much exercise do kids need? What are the benefits of exercise for kids and how should they get their exercise? We hope to answer all your questions about exercise and kids. Here are some basic guidelines for exercising for kids.
Depending on who you ask or where you look, the numbers can vary between 30 minutes of exercise a day to 3 hours. This is quite a bit of a discrepancy. However, everyone seems to agree that the amount of exercise a child needs correlates to age. So, here are some guidelines on how much exercise your child should be getting whether they’re of toddler age, under 5, or in primary or secondary school.
Why Is exercise Important For Kids And How Much Exercise Do Kids Need
Exercise for Toddlers
With children under two, the general rule of thumb is that they shouldn’t spend more than 60 minutes inactive during the day (unless they’re sleeping of course!) – I’m sure if you have a toddler you’ll know they won’t sit still for that long anyway!
Toddlers should spend at least three hours doing light physical exercise per day, such as walking, dancing or active play indoors and outdoors, and at least 30 minutes having structured, fun exercise, such as riding a trike, or kicking or throwing a ball.
Simple changes to your routine, such as getting your little one used to walking next to you by leaving the pushchair at home on short-medium length walk is a good way to ensure your child isn’t needlessly inactive.
Exercise for 2- 5 year olds
The guidelines for under 5 year olds are more or less the same as for toddlers. They should be getting at least three hours of exercise, but with 1 hour of structured exercise a day.
If you get your child used to walking and active play when they’re smaller, they should be getting enough light exercise – but if they aren’t, try gradually upping it and making it fun by investing in kids toys like pedal cars or climbing frames.
As your kid gets older, there are so many more options for structured exercise – swimming lessons, inviting friends over for football games and bike rides are all great ideas for getting their hearts pumping.
Exercising For Kids 5 – 11 years old
If your child’s in primary school, they need to get at least one hour of activity a day that gets them breaking a sweat; this needs to be a combination of moderate and vigorous intensity exercise.
Here are some age appropriate kids for exercising for kids. Moderate intensity exercise could be an energetic walk to school, skipping in the playground at lunchtime or skateboarding. Vigorous intensity exercise could be playing tag or chase, a game of outdoor sports, or dancing.
Although children are likely to get a good amount of exercise during PE lessons, try and encourage them to participate in active playground games as well and make sure they get exercise outside the school grounds.
Try enrolling them in after school sports activities, or see if your local community centre does things like dance lessons; these things are also a great way for kids to make new friends!
Exercise for 11- 18 year old
Once kids get into secondary school you face a different battle – getting them to listen to anything you say!
Secondary school kids should still be getting an hour of moderate and vigorous intensity exercise a day.
Try as hard as you can to get them to continue with the activities they enjoyed when they were smaller– anything like swimming, dancing, football, netball or riding a bike.
If all else fails or if your child wasn’t that active when they were younger either, try introducing new activities.
A Wii games console is great for teens too self conscious to venture outside to exercise, or you could try encouraging them to start at a gym (most will jump at the chance to do something more ‘grown up’!).
If you encourage kids to be active from the moment they start to walk, you’re setting the right examples early on.
There are always ways to get kids to do the amount of exercise they need to stay healthy and banning the TV and computer always works wonders!
I hope this answers the question, “Why is exercise important for kids?” The benefits of exercise for kids are many. Try to make sure that your little one gets as much exercise as they can, and you’ll help protect them against becoming overweight and all the medical battles that go with that. How much exercise do your kids get? What are some of your favorite tips for exercising for kids?