For kids exercise doesn’t mean working out at the gym, it means playing and being physically active. This includes activities like playing tag, riding bikes, gym class, soccer practice and more.
Regular exercise has many health benefits for kids such as:
- A stronger heart, bones and healthy muscles
- Less risk of becoming overweight
- A lower chance of getting type 2 diabetes
- Increased concentration and improved academic scores
- A chance to interact and socialize with peers
- Encourages healthy growth and development
In addition to all the above health benefits of exercise, fit kids also sleep better. According to KidsHealth they are also better able to handle physical and emotional challenges – such as running to catch the school bus or studying for a test.
The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition, issued by the US Department of Health and Human Services, recommends that children and adolescents ages 6 through 17 years complete 60 minutes (1 hour) or more of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity daily.
Some ideas to challenge your kids and keep them motivated include:
- Signing them up for a class, such as gymnastics or dance.
- Encourage activity and interaction with their peers with a t-ball or soccer team.
- Set a goal of running in a race or kids fun run, have them “train” with a sticker chart leading up to the event to keep them motivated.
- “Reward” them with a trip to the park or swimming pool for completing chores or good behavior.
- Riding a bike to a favorite place, or going hiking in a new location to challenge them.
Avoiding sedentary behavior:
Kids today are getting more and more screen time and inactivity. Young kids should not be inactive for long periods of time—less than an hour unless they are sleeping. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents limit screen time including TV, social media and video games. They encourage keeping these items out of children’s bedrooms and turning off all screens during mealtimes.
Physical activity is also vital to the mental health of a child.
Exercise releases endorphins, which equals a happy child. Mental health benefits of exercise include:
- Positive attitude.
- Builds confidence and leadership skills.
- Helps them manage anxiety and depression.
- Increases self-esteem and cognitive skills.
- Helps with behavioral disorders.
Be a Good Example of a Healthy Lifestyle.
The best way to raise a fit kid is to lead by example. Get active together as a family. Keep it fun, so your kids enjoy it. Set a regular schedule for exercise. Make being active a part of your daily life—like taking the stairs or parking further away.
Sign up for a Kids Fun Run!
If you’re looking for a fun local activity to try, check out the Grand Lake Marathon on September 25th. They offer multiple smaller races including a 5K and a Kids Fun Run. Community Sports & Therapy Center is a proud sponsor of the Kids Fun Run to encourage kids to get active – with medals for all participants!