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Youth Physical Activity

Being physically active is one of the most important steps to being healthy. Families play an important role in helping youth learn to be active and stay active throughout their lives.

How Does Physical Activity Help?

  • Builds strong bones and muscles.
  • Decreases the likelihood of developing obesity and risk factors for diseases like type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
  • May reduce anxiety and depression and promote positive mental health.

How Much Physical Activity Do Youth Need?

Children and adolescents should do 60 minutes (1 hour) or more of physical activity daily.

  • Aerobic Activities: Most of the 60 or more minutes per day should be either moderate- or vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity. Vigorous-intensity physical activity should be included at least 3 days per week. Examples of aerobic activities include bike riding, brisk walking, running, dancing, and playing active games like tag, soccer, and basketball.
  • Muscle-strengthening Activities: Include muscle-strengthening physical activity on at least 3 days of the week as part of the 60 or more minutes. Examples of muscle-strengthening activities for younger children include: gymnastics, playing on a jungle gym, and climbing a tree. Examples of muscle-strengthening activities for adolescents include push-ups, pull-ups, and weightlifting exercises.
  • Bone-strengthening Activities: Include bone-strengthening physical activity on at least 3 days of the week as part of the 60 or more minutes. Examples of bone-strengthening activities include hopping, skipping, jumping, running, and sports like gymnastics, basketball, and tennis.

Some activities may address more than one category at a time. For example, gymnastics is both muscle-strengthening and bone-strengthening. Running is aerobic and bone-strengthening. Activities should be age-appropriate, enjoyable, and offer variety.

What Can Families Do To Get and Keep Their Children Active?

Youth learn a lot about physical activity from their families. Family members who enjoy physical activity can help children enjoy physical activity. Caregivers play a very important role in determining youth participation in physical activi-ties—how much, how often, and what type of physical activity. Caregivers can also help youth balance non-active time periods (watching TV, using the computer, or talking on the phone) and physical activity. Click here for more information.

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