How many times a week do you exercise? You may be surprised by how much you need to move to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Doctors recommend that kids exercise at least 60 minutes a day. But less than 25 percent of kids meet or exceed that recommendation.
The amount of physical activity kids get has been decreasing for decades, says Harvard pediatrician Elsie Taveras. Time spent using technology and packed extracurricular schedules leave less room for exercise. Schools have also been reducing PE class time, so kids are moving even less during the day. As a result, health problems related to lack of exercise have soared in kids.
Exercise is important for more than just your muscles and cardiovascular system. Being physically active also improves mood, lessens anxiety, and increases focus. And because they’re more focused, kids who exercise regularly tend to do better in school.
Plus, exercise is usually fun. “The truth is that all children are programmed to want to be physically active,” Taveras explains. And you have a lot of options: Joining town recreation leagues, after-school activities, or before-school exercise programs are great ways to get your heart pumping.
If those organized activities aren’t available to you, there are small changes you can make to your daily habits to increase your activity level. You can take the stairs or walk the long way home. “You don’t need an exercise program to take out your bike and your helmet and go for a ride,” says Taveras. And even if you don’t have a bike, it’s all about finding the sport or activity that works for you and works up a sweat!