Being active every day can give your kids a boost — in lots of ways! Physical activity can help your kids maintain a healthy weight, get better grades, and improve their sleep and mood.
So how much physical activity do your kids need? If they are between the ages of 6 and 17, they need at least 60 minutes of activity each and every day. Most of this 60 minutes can be moderate-intensity aerobic activity, or anything that gets their heart beating faster. But, be sure to encourage them to step it up to vigorous-intensity aerobic activity at least three days a week. And remember, as part of their 60 minutes of physical activity a day, kids also need muscle and bone-strengthening activities at least three days a week. Kids can strengthen their muscles by climbing or swinging on the monkey bars, and strengthen their bones by jumping, running or taking part in other weight-bearing activities.
You might be asking, what if my kids are younger than 6? Younger kids love to be active naturally. Give them the opportunity to move at least three hours a day — more is even better — and limit the amount of sitting and screen time.
So what counts as physical activity? Anything that gets your kids moving! Plus, they don’t have to get all 60 minutes of physical activity at once — splitting it up over the day works well too! Here are just a few ideas for how to build more physical activity into your child’s day:
Encourage physical activity. Make physical activity fun for the whole family. Involve your kids in planning activities and then join the activity yourself. Don’t forget to use safety gear, if needed, like bike helmets if you ride bikes.
Treat your family and friends with fun physical activity. When it’s time to celebrate as a family or with friends, do something active! Plan a trip to the park, lake or playground, or host a dance party!
Turn off the TV. Create a household rule that no one can spend more than two hours a day watching TV, playing video games and using a computer (except for school work). Instead, go for a walk as a family, play tag or have a dance party!
Visit whatsyourmoveny.org every week to see nine new physical activity ideas. And for even more fun, take part in the final month of Finger Lakes Eat Smart New York’s Instagram challenge. Simply post a 10-15 second video showing your move with the hashtag #whatsyourmoveny and your video will appear online.
Maggie McHugh is a senior nutritionist with Finger Lakes Eat Smart NY at the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Wayne County.