Physical Activity Goals for Children

March 08, 2022
Father and son walking back inside after playing basketball outdoors

Get Moving for Kids!

Eating healthy is only one part of raising strong children.  The other important factor is ensuring they are physically active every day.  Any type and amount is better than none at all.  Find an activity that you and your child can enjoy together.  This way it will not appear as a task, but just another fun part of the day. 

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans from the Department of Health & Human Services suggest that children get at least 60 minutes of physical activity throughout their day and adults should aim for at least150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week.  Moderate intensity for children and adults means that you are breathing fast and you can feel your heart pounding.  One should be able to talk but not sing.  Rigorous intensity means you can only speak a few words at a time.

The chart below offers examples of activities for the different age groups for youth along with levels of effort:

Age Group

Type of Physical Activity

School-Aged Children

Adolescents

Moderate–intensity aerobic

  • Brisk walking
  • Bicycle riding (mostly on flat surfaces without many hills)
  • Active recreation, such as hiking, riding a scooter without a motor, swimming
  • Playing games that require catching and throwing, such as baseball and softball
  • Brisk walking
  • Bicycle riding (mostly on flat surfaces without many hills)
  • Active recreation, such as kayaking, hiking, swimming
  • House and yard work, such as sweeping or pushing a lawn mower
  • Playing games that require catching and throwing, such as baseball and softball

Vigorous–intensity aerobic

  • Running
  • Bicycle riding (may include hills)
  • Active games involving running and chasing, such as tag or flag football
  • Jumping rope
  • Cross-country skiing
  • Martial arts
  • Sports such as soccer, basketball, swimming, and tennis
  • Vigorous dancing
  • Running
  • Bicycle riding (may include hills)
  • Active games involving running and chasing, such as tag or flag football
  • Jumping rope
  • Cross-country skiing
  • Martial arts
  • Sports such as soccer, basketball, swimming, and tennis
  • Vigorous dancing

Muscle-strengthening

  • Games such as tug of war
  • Resistance exercises using body weight or resistance bands
  • Rope or tree climbing
  • Climbing on playground equipment
  • Some forms of yoga
  • Games such as tug of war
  • Resistance exercises using bodyweight, resistance bands, weight machines, hand-held weights
  • Some forms of yoga

Bone-strengthening

  • Hopping, skipping, jumping
  • Jumping rope
  • Running
  • Sports that involve jumping or rapid changes in direction
  • Jumping rope
  • Running
  • Sports that involve jumping or rapid changes in direction

Credit: cdc.org

Physical Activity Benefits for Children

Physical activity supports overall health and well-being.  It enhances growth and development for young children and promotes a better quality of life with immediate and long-term health benefits.  Some specific health benefits for children include:

  • Reduces anxiety and depression
  • Improves quality of sleep
  • Builds strong bones
  • Increased self-confidence and cognition skills

Some children may love going to a playground and others may only want to play organized sports.  As role models for children, guardians need to encourage and support their child’s favorite activities.  A part of this is making the time every day.  This could happen in one full hour at the park or a mixture of gym class, walking home from school, doing chores, and a tumbling class.  

Single parent with his child in the park skateboarding. Father teaches her daughter how to skateboard. Dad and kid having fun and playing in the park.

Support for Parents/Guardians

Successful habits develop when you start early for a strong foundation, model physical activity for your child, and offer a variety of activities (inside, outside, water activities, structured activities, or silly games).  Some other tips include:

  • Playing together as a family
  • If just starting out, go slow and easy
  • Set a reminder (save the date on the calendar, alarm on phone, sticky note)
  • Stay hydrated

More information can be found at https://www.mahealthyfoodsinasnap.org/healthy-moves and

https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/about-physical-activity/pdfs/healthy-strong-america-201902_508.pdf.

Have fun while moving together as a family!  Broc

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