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How much physical activity should a kid have?

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Physical activity is essential for children’s growth, development, and overall health. The recommended amount of physical activity for kids varies by age and is generally measured in terms of both the amount of time spent being physically active and the type of activities they engage in. Here are the general guidelines for physical activity for children:

  • Infants (0-12 months):
    • Infants should have supervised “tummy time” when they are awake to encourage muscle and motor skill development.
    • Encourage floor-based play and interaction.
  • Toddlers (1-2 years):
    • At least 180 minutes (3 hours) of physical activity spread throughout the day.
    • Activities should be varied and include both structured (organized) and unstructured (free play) play.
    • Limit sedentary screen time to no more than 1 hour per day.
  • Preschoolers (3-5 years):
    • At least 180 minutes (3 hours) of physical activity per day, with activities that help develop motor skills.
    • Include active play, running, jumping, dancing, and games.
    • Limit sedentary screen time to no more than 1 hour per day.
  • School-Age Children (6-17 years):
    • At least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity daily.
    • Activities should include a mix of aerobic (e.g., running, biking), muscle-strengthening (e.g., push-ups, resistance exercises), and bone-strengthening (e.g., jumping) activities.
    • Limit sedentary screen time and prioritize sleep for overall health and well-being.
  • Aerobic Activity for Older Children and Adolescents (6-17 years):
    • In addition to the 60 minutes of daily activity, aim for most of this to be aerobic activity.
    • Vigorous-intensity activities, such as running or swimming, should be included at least three days a week.
    • Muscle- and bone-strengthening activities should be part of their routine at least three days a week.

It’s important to note that children are more likely to be physically active when they see their parents and caregivers engaging in physical activity. Creating a supportive and active family environment can encourage children to be active from a young age.

Physical activity should be fun and age-appropriate, tailored to your child’s interests and abilities. It can include activities like sports, dancing, swimming, riding a bike, playing at the park, or simply going for a walk together as a family.

Remember that children should be encouraged to engage in a mix of activities that promote cardiovascular fitness, strength, flexibility, and overall well-being. Additionally, safety is paramount, so ensure that children use appropriate safety gear and receive proper supervision, especially for activities like biking, skating, or swimming.

The Pediatric.me content is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice or as a substitute for medical advice of a physician