By Lisa Cianci, Editorial Contributor
Prying your children away from smartphones and gaming consoles to get some exercise can be a challenge. But regular physical activity is important – and easier when you make it a family affair, says Dr. Stuart Janousky, a board-certified pediatrician with Orlando Health Physician Associates.
Exercise has many benefits – from helping kids relax to improving their sleep quality. Besides boosting their mood and reducing stress, it strengthens muscles and bones, cuts the risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease, and increases overall energy levels. It also can improve brain function and protect memory and thinking skills.
How Much Exercise Do Kids Need?
Children between the ages 6 and 17 should do 60 minutes or more of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). And for more health benefits, there should be variety in their activities.
If children aren’t getting enough movement, chances are that parents and other family members aren’t either, says Dr. Janousky. So, try to achieve fitness goals together by doing something physical at least three to four times a week for at least a half-hour.
Try These Activities
- Go for a family walk, bike ride or roller skate.
- Play in the yard, doing sprints or climbing trees.
- Put up a basketball hoop in the driveway.
- Use stationary bikes and treadmills when the weather isn’t good.
- Tackle a home improvement project together: Paint a bedroom wall or plant a garden.
- Join a community swimming pool.
- Set up a scavenger hunt in the yard or enjoy a nature scavenger hunt on a park trail, spotting and gathering leaves, stones and wildflowers.
- Set up an obstacle course in the yard or on the sidewalk using common household items.
- Play classic sidewalk games, such as skipping rope or hopscotch.
- Kick a soccer ball, play catch or toss a football.