Physical activity is essential for children's health and development. It helps to build strong bones and muscles, improve cardiovascular fitness, maintain a healthy weight, and reduce the risk of developing certain diseases and illnesses. It also helps children to develop coordination, flexibility, and balance, as well as improving their mental health and cognitive function.
So, how much physical activity do children and teens need?
Physical Activity Guidelines for Children
The recommended amount of physical activity for children and teens varies depending on their age. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services routinely updates and releases current health guidelines in the publication Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. These guidelines provide evidence-based guidance to help Americans maintain or improve their health through physical activity.
Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provide activity recommendations based on these guidelines. Here are the physical activity guidelines for children and teens according to age:
- Preschool-Aged Children (3-5 years) - Young children in this age group should be physically active throughout the day every day as much as possible, but at least for 180 minutes. This can be accomplished through a variety of activities that involve different parts of the body, such as running, climbing, walking, and throwing. These periods of activity can be done in short bursts of 10-15 minutes throughout the day.
- Children and Adolescents (6-17 years) - Children and adolescents in this age group should get 60 minutes (1 hour) or more of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity daily. This can involve taking part in many different activities, including running, swimming, cycling, dancing, and other sports and games. Additionally, it’s recommended that individuals in this age group partake in vigorous physical activities—soccer, running, etc.—at least 3 times a week. They should also do the same for activities that strengthen muscles—climbing or push-ups—and activities that strengthen bones—gymnastics or jumping rope—at least 3 times a week.
It is also important for children to have regular opportunities to be active in natural environments, such as playing in a park or garden, as this can help to improve their physical and mental well-being. Additionally, regular periods of unstructured play allow children to develop their creativity and problem-solving skills since they are following no directions or instructions. It is also important for children to have regular opportunities to be physically active with their families and friends, as this can help to foster social connections and a sense of community.
Overall, it is important for children to be physically active every day in order to maintain their health and well-being. This can be achieved through a variety of activities that are enjoyable and suitable for their age and abilities. It is also important for parents and caregivers to model healthy behaviors and encourage children to be active from an early age.
At the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Mississippi Delta, we do whatever it takes to build great futures. We aim to serve the children in our communities, especially by keeping them safe and healthy while promoting respect and equality. One of the ways we do this is through our afterschool programs, which provide a safe place for all children where they have access to homework help, fitness activities, workforce development, literacy activities, and more.
Each of our programs and clubs provides kids with a safe place to play, learn, exercise, and receive nutritious foods. Find out how you can get involved with our organization by signing your child up for a club or afterschool program, making a donation, or volunteering to help our cause today!