The AAP recommends daily physical activity for every child starting at infancy. Infants should spend at least 30 minutes spread out throughout the day engaging in tummy time or other active play. Kids between the ages of 3 years old to 6 years old should spend at least 3 hours of their day being active. This may include going for walks, playing at a playground, or free play outside. At 6 years old and older, one hour of physical activity is needed every day. While younger kids may enjoy free play, this is also a good time to start joining sports teams and trying out different activities. Exercising daily is an important way to maintain a healthy lifestyle. It improves sleep, decreases stress, strengthens bones and muscles, improves focus at school, boosts self esteem, and helps prevent some chronic diseases, such as obesity and diabetes.
There are many ways for you and your children to stay active. Start by choosing activities that are appropriate for your child’s age; a 7 year old should not be expected to lift weights at the gym, but may benefit from playing on a soccer team or playing at the playground. Having toys at home that encourage activity such as bikes or balls also sets up an active environment. Set limits on screen use to make time for physical activity, but be sure to balance your child’s schedule to also make time for adequate rest.
Be sure to join in the fun by joining your child in playing and exercising. Seeing you lead a healthy life will set your child on the right path to follow in your footsteps. Engage in fun activities to stay active; the more your child enjoys their activity, the more likely they are to make it a lifelong habit.
American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). (December 30, 2020). 11 Ways to Encourage Your Child to Be Physically Active. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/fitness/Pages/Encouraging-Your-Child-to-be-Physically-Active.aspx
American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). (August 5, 2020). Making Physical Activity a Way of Life: AAP Policy Explained. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/fitness/Pages/Making-Fitness-a-Way-of-Life.aspx