Children and Exercise

How Much is Enough?

Exercise is an important part of everyday health and the benefits are numerous and widely reported. As gym classes and fitness regimes become ever popular and take up more time in people’s daily schedule, it may come as a shock that about 2.2 billion people around the world are either overweight or obese. There are 150 million children reported to fall into the ‘overweight’ category.

If so many of us as adults are working fitness into our routine, is that trend passing on to our children? On the other hand, do we know how much exercise our children should be doing? The benefits of a balanced dietare often more widely publicised when it comes to the younger generation but with children, these days being raised in the smartphone and social media age physical activity can easily fall by the wayside.

So how much is enough?

Medical studies show that young people aged between 5 and 18 should partake in three different types of activity per week. The amount and type is of course set by age and ability but in general, the types of exercise we recommend are a mix of aerobic exercise, muscle building exercise, and exercise that focuses on building strong bones and health.

It’s important to remember that for children to form good habits, exercise shouldn’t feel like a chore. As adults, many people have that love-hate relationship with our gym memberships, and even moreso with our bodies and it’s a trend that can be easily emanated. Instead of making exercise an added inconvenience, it should be fun and appealing. Alternatively, people who love to exercise don’t want to be too pushy, over enthusiasm to the point of preaching or forcefulness can also have the opposite desired effect.

Children’s weekly exercise should range from a mix of moderate to vigorous activity, and there are lots of ways you can incorporate fun lessons involving teamwork, coordination and communication as they go.

Canadian Medical Care - Paediatrics -

What can you do?

Moderate activity can be very easy to work into your daily routine. A brisk walk to school, a trip to the playground, walking around the park with the dog, or going on family bike rides should be sufficient in raising children’s heart rate and maintaining their health.

Vigorous activity is often the one as adults that we don’t enjoy so much, but it has more obvious health benefits - strong muscles, a healthy heart and it can even greatly benefit mental health too! Things like going swimming, or to a dance class, running around or doing gymnastics, and general sports such as football, hockey, and florball are great ways to work in vigorous activity.

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