With longer days and warmer temperatures, it’s time to get off the couch! As your pediatrician may have told you, unhealthy children become unhealthy adults, so get the kids involved in your new activities. Kids will learn from your example, and with so many benefits to staying active – remember, being physical fit doesn’t call for hours in the gym – you can better their mental and physical health.
Benefits of Physical Activity For Kids
As we become more dependent on technology, it’s easy for kids to miss out on physical fitness that came so naturally to prior generations. During well-child checkups and health screenings, your pediatrician may recommend different activities for your kids. Naturally, keeping your child’s weight in a healthy range is important, but there are a number of other benefits to kids being physically active.
- Build strong bones and muscles: Our muscles get stronger the more we use them, so staying active means our bones and muscles will last us a lifetime.
- Improves cardiovascular fitness: Nearly 18 percent of children age 6 – 11 in the U.S. are considered obese, which puts tremendous strain on the young hearts. Staying active helps keep weight (and cardiovascular health) in check.
- Improves posture: A recent report from the New York Post suggests continuous use of digital screens – tablet, cell phone, or video game console – is causing kids and teens to become hunchback.
- Helps establish brain power: A single period of moderate-intensity exercise has immediate and positive impacts on brain function, academic performance, and intelligence.
- Improves concentration and thinking skills: Mastery of basic movement boosts brain power and academic performance.
- Improving confidence and self-esteem
- Relieves stress
- Develops social skills
- Improves sleep
Neither you nor your child has to be an athlete to be fit. A healthy lifestyle, which can be established by your Myrtle Beach pediatrician, calls for effort in making healthy food choices and moderate exercise.
How Active Should My Kid Be?
If you’re concerned your child isn’t getting enough exercise, speak with your Myrtle Beach pediatrician. It’s important to note that your child’s activity level will vary depending on age.
- Toddlers: Young children should get at least 30 minutes of structured physical activity. A parent or caregiver should structure and be involved with this activity. In addition, the toddler should have several hours throughout the day of playtime to naturally move and explore.
- Preschoolers: Children age 4 to 6 should get about an hour of structured physical activity and up to several hours – but at least 60 minutes – of daily free play.
- Children and teens: Kids up to age 17 need at least 60 minutes or more of physical activity a day. Playing in a school sport, being involved in band, joining a community karate group, or playing at an afterschool program count as physical activity. The goal is to include muscle and bone strengthening.
In addition to being active, your child should eat a well-balanced diet and see the pediatrician regularly, even through their 18th birthday.