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How Much Physical Activity Do Kids Need?

With the recent Covid-19 Pandemic making us find a new “normal”, activity rates have gone down for not only kids, but for all quarantined families.  Kids aren’t going to school anymore to get their daily dose of gym or recess time, and it’s hard for busy parents to find time to create some kind of exercise program for their kids to keep them active, healthy and safe. So what can we do about it? With the help of the CDC, The Department of Health and Human Services, and our local physical therapy clinics all pitching in, we are able to provide parents with the accurate information necessary to keep their children healthy and active. Not only are we able to provide information about the appropriate amount of exercise for your kids, but we navigate parents to the most helpful and informative sites.

Recently we have seen a rise of diseases in children that in the past had only been seen in adults. Things like obesity, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure are being seen more frequently in children. One of the best ways to combat the rise of these diseases is to make sure that your kids are getting enough physical activity.

So what are the Recommended Guidelines?

The Department of Health and Human Services has developed guidelines recommending that youth ages 6-17 participate in 60 minutes or more of physical activity 7 days/ week. This is total activity time, so 1 hour, 2 30 minute sessions, or 4 sessions of 15 minutes each in a day would all satisfy this recommendation. Most of this activity should be at either moderate or vigorous intensity.

An easy way to distinguish vigorous vs moderate intensity exercise is as follows:

Moderate intensity allows you to talk but not sing during or right after activity

Vigorous intensity allows you to say only a few words at a time

As part of the 60 minutes daily, it is recommended that children participate in muscle strengthening activities 3 days/wk and bone strengthening activities 3 days/wk. Some activities that would fit into these categories are listed below:

Muscle Strengthening Activities

  1. Games like tug of war
  2. Climbing playground equipment
  3. Push ups, pull ups, or sit ups
  4. Activities like crab walking, bear walking, or wheelbarrow with a partner

Bone Strengthening Activities

  1. Hopscotch
  2. Jumping rope
  3. Skipping
  4. Sports that include jumping like basketball or volleyball
But, how?

All the recommendations listed above are great, except in times like these they are unable to be put into action easily. So what are available resources for parents to keep their children active? Many social media accounts online are providing parents with helpful tips to keep their children on the right track while finishing their education at home. Some of these tips include homework sheets, class outlines, book recommendations and more for in the classroom help. But there are also many therapy clinics (such as Lucas Therapies), Teachers, and Coaches who are doing their part in their community to help out parents as much as possible when it comes to physical education. Just remember, to get and keep kids participating, physical activity should be fun and incorporated into playful activities that are age appropriate!

For more information on recommendations and guidelines, and ideas for keeping your family active during Quarantine, check out:

  1. https://www.lucastherapies.com
  2. https://www.shapeamerica.org/covid19-resources.aspx
  3. https://www.actionforhealthykids.org/covid-19-resources-physical-activity-nutrition-more/
  4. https://health.gov/paguidelines/midcourse/youth-fact-sheet.pdf
  5. https://www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/physicalactivity/facts.htm