For school-age children, physical activity promotes healthy growth and development. In fact, being physically active helps improve a child’s heart fitness and helps build a healthier body composition, stronger bones, and stronger muscles. Physical activity also helps develop better motor skills, concentration, and thinking skills.
The amount of physical activity needed for children depends on their age. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), children ages 3 through 5 must be active throughout the day. Children and adolescents ages 6 through 17 need to be active for 1 hour (60 minutes) daily. Even if your school-age child has a disability, exercise and physical activity are still important.
Before beginning any physical activity or exercise, talk with a medical professional or the child’s doctor. They can tell you more about the amounts and types of physical activity appropriate for your child’s abilities. The following are some physical activities that may be appropriate for your child:
Ages 3 to 5
- Play games such as “Duck, Duck, Goose” or “Follow the Leader.” Mix things up with jumping, hopping, and walking backward.
- Playing catch
- Hitting a ball off a T-ball stand
- Relay racing
Ages 6 to 17
- Aerobic exercises such as walking, swimming, or running
- Bone-strengthening activities such as hopscotch, tennis, basketball, and jump rope
- Muscle-strengthening activities such as dance, tug-of-war, resistance bands, tree climbing, and volleyball
Regular physical activity helps maintain a child’s weight, reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, and reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases (heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes) as an adult. It is vital to provide children the opportunities and encouragement to participate in activities that are appropriate for their age and enjoyable. Making sure they receive diverse types of physical activity is also essential.