Exercise and Children

Exercise is an important part of keeping children healthy. Encouraging healthy lifestyles in kids and teens is important for when they grow older. Habits that are learned in childhood are more likely to stay with the child into adulthood. Some changes in lifestyle can be harder to make the older a person becomes.

The best way to promote healthy lifestyles is for the whole family to be involved.

Creating an exercise plan

A daily exercise program helps create good heart-healthy habits. The following exercise guidelines for children can help you and your child plan activities:

  • Children need at least 60 minutes of medium to vigorous physical activity on most days. This helps to maintain good health and fitness. And it helps kids stay at a healthy weight as they grow.

  • Limit children’s screen time (TV, video, and computers) to less than 2 hours a day. Replace these sitting activities with activities that require more movement.

Even doing low-to-medium intensity activities for as little as 30 minutes a day can be helpful. These activities may include the following:

  • Pleasure walking

  • Climbing stairs

  • Dancing

  • Home exercise

Regular aerobic activity increases a child’s capacity for exercise. It can help prevent heart diseases and type 2 diabetes and help to lower blood pressure. Aerobic activities are continuous activities that raise the heart rate and breathing rate. To prevent dehydration, encourage children to drink fluids often during physical activity. And to drink several glasses of water or other fluids without added sugar after the physical activity is done. Examples of vigorous activities may include the following:

  • Brisk walking

  • Running

  • Swimming

  • Cycling

  • Rollerblading or roller skating

  • Jumping rope

  • Playing on the playground

  • Dancing

  • Gymnastics

  • Hiking

  • Soccer

  • Tag games

Exercise on a regular basis is part of a healthy lifestyle. But some children can exercise too much. Talk with your child’s healthcare provider if:

  • Your child begins losing weight and falls below expected growth patterns

  • Exercise gets in the way of other normal activities including school

Benefits from regular exercise or physical activity

The following are just some of the benefits of regular exercise or physical activity:

  • Improves blood circulation throughout the body

  • Keeps weight under control

  • Improves blood cholesterol levels

  • Prevents and manages high blood pressure

  • Prevents bone loss

  • Boosts energy level

  • Releases tension

  • Improves the ability to fall asleep quickly and sleep well

  • Improves self-image

  • Helps manage stress

  • Counters anxiety and depression

  • Increases enthusiasm and optimism

  • Increases muscle strength

Online Medical Reviewer: Amy Finke RN BSN
Online Medical Reviewer: Liora C Adler MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Raymond Kent Turley BSN MSN RN
Date Last Reviewed: 3/1/2019
© 2000-2021 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.