Children and Physical Fitness

Obesity is on the rise among America’s children. According to a report by the Center for Disease Control, “Physical inactivity has contributed to an unprecedented epidemic of childhood obesity that is currently plaguing the United States.” Regular exercise can play a major role in helping children manage their weight.

How much exercise should my child get?

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that children and adolescents ages 6-17 get 60 minutes or more of moderate to vigorous physical activity daily.

What can I do to make sure my child gets enough exercise?

It is up to parents, teachers and coaches to encourage children to be physically active. Here are some ways you can help improve your child’s physical fitness:

  • Educate your child about the importance of good nutrition and physical fitness.
  • Set a good example by being physically active yourself.
  • Plan family activities that include physical activity. Walk to the park and have a picnic lunch with your family or go on a bicycle ride together in the evening.
  • Limit the amount of time your child spends in front of the television or computer.
  • Encourage your child to participate in school and community physical activity and sports programs.
  • Become an advocate for quality school and community physical activity programs.

Benefits of physical activity for children

Regular physical activity within adolescents creates life-long healthy habits that will improve both physical and cognitive performance.

  • Regular physical activity in children and adolescents promotes health and fitness.
  • Compared to those who are inactive, physically active youth have higher levels of fitness, lower body fat, and stronger bones and muscles.
  • Physical activity also has brain health benefits for school-aged children, including improved cognition (e.g., academic performance, memory) and reduced symptoms of depression.
  • Regular physical activity in childhood and adolescence can also be important for promoting lifelong health and well-being and preventing risk factors for various health conditions like heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.
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