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"Why is Exercise Important for Children's Development and Wellbeing?"

Updated: Mar 29

Get Active! Fun Ways for Kids and Teens to Move Their Bodies

Being active isn't just about burning calories; it's a cornerstone of a healthy lifestyle for children and teens of all ages. These habits they learn young will stick with them throughout their lives. Here's how you can help your child get moving and reap the many benefits of exercise.

Let's Get Physical: Age-Appropriate Activities

  • Ages 3-5:  Preschoolers are naturally energetic explorers! The best exercise for them is unstructured playtime that allows them to run, jump, climb, and move in a variety of ways. Think riding bikes, throwing balls, hopping, skipping, and jumping rope. This constant movement fuels their growth and development.

  • Ages 6-17:  As kids get older, they can handle more structured activities. Aim for at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise each day.

Pro-Tip: Limit screen time for children of all ages to less than 2 hours a day. Swap out TV, video games, and computers for activities that get them moving.

The Power of Aerobic Activity

Regular aerobic exercise improves a child's overall fitness level and helps prevent health problems down the road, like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and even high blood pressure. These activities raise the heart rate and get them breathing harder.

Stay Hydrated!

Make sure your child drinks plenty of fluids throughout the day, especially during physical activity, to avoid dehydration. Encourage them to drink water or sugar-free drinks before, during, and after exercise.

Exercise is a Family Affair!

The best way to encourage healthy habits in your children is to be a role model yourself. Find family-friendly activities that everyone can enjoy, like going for walks, playing sports together, or taking a dance class.

The Perks of Getting Active

The benefits of regular exercise go far beyond physical health. Here's a glimpse of what your child can gain from an active lifestyle:

  • Improved blood flow throughout the body

  • Healthy weight management

  • Better blood cholesterol levels

  • Lower risk of high blood pressure and bone loss

  • Increased energy levels

  • Reduced stress and anxiety

  • Improved sleep quality

  • Boosted self-esteem

  • Increased enthusiasm and optimism

  • Stronger muscles

Knowing When to Talk to the Doctor

Regular exercise is fantastic, but it's important to find a balance. Talk to your doctor if your child:

  • Starts losing weight and falls below expected growth patterns.

  • Lets exercise interfere with other important activities like schoolwork.

Teens and Exercise

Just like younger children, staying active is crucial for teens' health and well-being. It sets them up with healthy habits that will benefit them for life.

Creating a Teen-Friendly Exercise Routine

Aim for at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise most days of the week to maintain good health, fitness, and a healthy weight. This routine should incorporate:

  • Aerobic Activities: Similar to younger children, these activities get the heart rate pumping – think brisk walking, running, swimming, cycling, or team sports.

  • Muscle-Strengthening Activities: Exercises that build muscle, like weightlifting or bodyweight exercises.

  • Bone-Strengthening Activities: Exercises that put stress on the bones, like running, jumping, or jumping rope, to help build strong bones.

Even lighter activities like walking, climbing stairs, or dancing for 30 minutes a day can be helpful.

Curb Screen Time

Just like younger kids, limit screen time for teens to less than 2 hours a day. Encourage them to find active alternatives to replace sedentary activities.

Staying Hydrated is Key

As with younger children, proper hydration is essential for teens during physical activity. Make sure they drink plenty of fluids before, during, and after exercise to avoid dehydration.

The Perks of Getting Active

The American Heart Association and the President's Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition highlight a whole list of fantastic benefits teens can score by getting regular physical activity:

  • Pumping Up the Body's Highway: Exercise gets the blood circulating throughout the body more efficiently, delivering oxygen and nutrients to all the important stops.

  • Weight Management: Physical activity helps teens stay at a healthy weight, reducing the risk of future health problems.

  • Cholesterol Control: Exercise keeps those cholesterol levels in check, promoting a healthy heart.

  • Taming the Blood Pressure Beast: Regular physical activity can help prevent and manage high blood pressure, keeping that ticker ticking smoothly.

  • Building Strong Bones for Life: Exercise helps teens build strong bones, which is super important as they grow and develop.

  • Energy to Burn: Physical activity boosts energy levels, keeping teens feeling vibrant and ready to tackle the day.

  • Stress Less, Rest More: Exercise helps release tension and improves sleep quality, leaving teens feeling more relaxed and well-rested.

  • Confidence Booster: Regular physical activity can improve self-image and boost confidence in teens.

  • Stress Buster: Exercise is a great way to manage stress, a common foe for many teenagers.

  • Feeling Happy and Positive: Physical activity can help fight anxiety and depression, promoting feelings of enthusiasm and optimism.

  • Building Strength Like a Superhero: Exercise helps teens build muscle strength, making them feel powerful and capable.

Why Teens Need to Move It (But Not Too Much!): The Power of Balanced Exercise

Regular exercise is a cornerstone of a healthy lifestyle, and that goes double for teens. It keeps their bodies strong, minds sharp, and spirits high. But just like with that perfect slice of pizza, too much of a good thing can backfire. So, how do you find the exercise sweet spot for your teenager?

Finding the Exercise Balance

While exercise is fantastic for teens, it's important to find the right balance. If your teen starts losing weight rapidly, falls below expected growth patterns, or if exercise starts interfering with their schoolwork or other important activities, it's time to chat with their healthcare provider. They can help you create a safe and effective exercise plan that keeps your teen healthy and happy, without going overboard.

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