Do you ever look at your kids and wish you had the kind of energy they do? Make sure they're putting it to good use!
Children and adolescents need at least 60 minutes a day of moderate-to-vigorous aerobic activity, per the CDC and a host of other top health agencies and organizations. These activities promote muscle, bone and brain development, reduces risk for chronic diseases in adulthood, decreases stress and anxiety, and offers social and emotional benefits. Plus, it gets out the wiggles and makes them less likely to drive you crazy at home!
You'd think that between gym class and recess they'd achieve this easily attained hour-a-day standard, but that's not always the case. Only 22 percent of American school districts even require daily recess, and of those, less than half require that recess last longer than 20 minutes, according to the Bridging the Gap study in 2011-12. Recesses of at least 15 minutes were found to greatly improve classroom behavior in a 2009 study, and schools with more recess cite better grades and testing performance.
Much like reading, writing, and math, we often have to supplement at home to ensure our child is getting the full breadth of study that they need. Exercise is no different. And while you may already know your times tables, joining in the fun with your children's daily activity is just a healthy idea for the whole family.
Moderate-Vigorous Aerobic Activity
The CDC recommends that most of the 60 minutes each day be spent on "moderate-vigorous aerobic activity." This doesn't mean sticking your kid on a treadmill — instead, look for after-school sport activities such as soccer, karate, tennis, cheer or gymnastics, all of which build social skills as much as they do physical fitness. Family activities could include bike riding, swimming or a good old-fashioned dance party.
The recommendation also includes a focus on muscle development and strength. Commit some of the daily 60 minutes, or three days a week, to the kid's version of strength training. This can include playground games like swinging, monkey bars, and tug-of-war. Rock climbing, or the more accessible climbing trees and ropes, is highly recommended. Classic fitness moves like sit-ups or modified push-ups are a great way to workout together as a family. Perform gymnastics moves like cartwheels and somersaults in the backyard or playroom.
Read more: Is Lifting Weights Good for Kids?
Commit some time each day or three days a week to strengthening your child's bones, too. Not only will this support development now, but ensure the health and strength of their bones as they age well into adulthood. These activities are just downright fun "driveway" stuff you used to do with the neighbor kids, like hopscotch, skipping, jumping rope, and running around playing tag or chase.
Running is also beneficial, as are sports you can play in the backyard or on a team like basketball, tennis, volleyball, and gymnastics. Yoga, which you can do together at home or at parent-and-child classes, is ideal for bones, muscles, mind, body and soul.
Read more: Yoga Lesson Plans for Kids