What exercise do kids really need?

According to Dr. Mary C. Friesz, a registered dietitian and author of Food, Fun n' Fitness, kids don’t need to be sculpting biceps or a set of "6 pack abs".  They need enough to perform daily tasks without becoming exhausted and with enough additional energy left over to enjoy life.  Exercise involves more than just muscles – it strengthens the heart, lungs and the mind too.

When it comes of physically activity here are some guidelines from the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD).

  • At least 60 minutes a day of developmentally appropriate activities
  • Extended periods of inactivity are not appropriate for normal, healthy children. 
  • A variety of physical activities of various intensity levels are recommended.

Children under 8 years of age, have shorter attention spans compared to adolescents and adults.  They need a wide variety to activities and experiences.  And… kids are more likely to enjoy physical activity if family members and friends participate.  So, here’s a good excuse to get the adults up and moving!  Performance and pressure often takes the fun out of exercising at this age and it may take turn your child way from ever trying it again.  Make it fun and enjoyable! 

No matter how important, too much of a good thing, particularly in young, growing children, can be a real danger.  Excessive exercise can put undo stress on areas like growth plates and bones.  Also, the central nervous system is still under development, so little kids may not have the muscle control needed to protect themselves. 

Be aware of dehydration risks and make sure they drink plenty of fluids in these hot summer months. 

Taken from Food, Fun n’ Fitness by Mary C. Friesz, PhD, RD, CDE, LDN

Tiffany Glenn, M.S., R.D., L.D.
Registered Dietitian
Rodan and Fields Executive Consultant
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