Parents, would you answer “true” or “false” to these statements?
- My children and I are physically active enough to break a sweat every day.
- My children probably will be physically active as adults.
- I will be physically active when I am a grandparent.
If you mostly answered “true,” you are teaching your child about lifelong physical literacy. A physically literate person can and wants to be physically active as a child and as an adult.
How much physical activity do kids need each day?
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants, children, teens, and children with special needs have time for physical activity each day. Here’s how much they need:
- Infants need at least 30 minutes of “tummy time” and other interactive play, spread throughout each day.
- Kids aged 3-5 need at least 3 hours of physical activity per day, or about 15 minutes every hour they are awake.
- Kids 6 years and older need 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity on most days of the week.
Luckily, there are lots of opportunities and choices in how kids can stay active. Here are a few ideas:
Benefits of physical activity
Most kids don’t move enough. Just 25% get a healthy amount. Many parents are not active, either. That’s why it’s so important to make time for moderate to vigorous activity on most days. Here are just some of the benefits:
- Helps prevent obesity, heart disease, and diabetes
- Helps students focus in school
- For teens, helps avoid risk-taking behaviors like smoking, drinking, and using drugs
- Improves sleep
- Burns calories
- Strengthens the cardiovascular system
- Builds strong bones and muscles
- Increases flexibility
- Diffuses stress
- Teaches teamwork and sportsmanship
- Boosts self-esteem
- Improves an overall sense of well-being
The best medicine
The AAP urges families to make lifelong physical activity a goal. It’s the best medicine parents can give their kids for a lifetime of health.