Is your child getting the physical activity they need for a healthy body and mind?

Using their body for transportation can help!

Many of us have heard by now that the CDC recommends at least 60 minutes of daily physical activity for children. But, what may come as a surprise is that kids (and adults) need a trifecta of aerobic, muscle strengthening and bone strengthening activity. For kids, vigorous physical activity, muscle strengthening and bone strengthening should all happen three days a week. Fortunately, many activities count for all three, and getting to and from school can cross categories as well.

What activities count?

Aerobic activity can be vigorous or moderate, and should make up the majority of children’s daily and weekly activity. Vigorous aerobic activity includes running, jumping rope and sports like basketball or swimming. Moderate activity includes a brisk walk or flat bike ride or playing catch.

Muscle strengthening activity for kids doesn’t need to be a formal weight lifting program, although for adolescents, it can be. Younger kids can strengthen muscles swinging on monkey bars, playing games like tug-of-war or doing gymnastics.

Bone strengthening activities typically involve some kind of impact, like running, hopping, skipping or jumping; jumping rope; and sports like gymnastics, volleyball and tennis.

You can find a more complete list on the CDC website here.

Why does it matter?

Physical activities can help your child:

  • Control their weight;
  • Protect against cardiovascular disease and diabetes;
  • Reduce the risk of certain types of cancers;
  • Help your child get a better night’s sleep and reduce the risk of depression;
  • Strengthen their bones and muscles;
  • Increase their chances of living longer!

How to fit it all in?

If it seems challenging to fit all of these into your child’s daily life, given limited PE and recess time, remember that walking or biking to school can provide a sizeable portion of your child’s daily needs. Even if you don’t live close enough to school to get all the way there by muscle power alone, consider stopping short of school and walking the rest of the way, or taking a quick walk before hitting the bus stop. To incorporate vigorous and bone strengthening activities more often, your child could even try running or skipping part of the way to school! Keep it fun so that your child keeps at it!

What about me?

Finally, if you’re curious about the CDC recommendations for adults, take a look here to see if you’re hitting the targets.

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