Sometimes it seems like kids have endless energy. They can bounce from school to practice and still want to play outside when they get home. But between organized sports and time to just play, how do you know if they’re getting too much exercise?
Most parents don’t need to worry about that, says Cris Dobrosielski, a personal trainer and spokesman for the American Council on Exercise.
“In general, many kids in the United States aren’t getting enough,” he says. “There is very little physical education in schools, recess is often short, and kids are coming home and not having opportunities to be active.”
But for children who play a few different sports, it’s important for parents to watch for signs that they’re exhausted or injured while they’re exercising.
The amount and type of physical activity that’s right for your child depends on her age, interests, and how fit she is already. Here are some guidelines to keep in mind.
Aim for at Least 60 Minutes a Day
Children ages 6 and up should get at least an hour of physical activity every day, according to CDC guidelines. If this sounds like a lot, keep in mind that they don’t have to do it all at once.
“A lot of countries have recommendations that children get about 3 hours of activity a day, or about 15 minutes every hour or so that they’re awake,” says Blaise Nemeth, MD, a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness. “That’s a pretty reasonable guideline for most kids.”
It’s a good idea to encourage children to move around for a few minutes every hour. They have shorter attention spans and tend to be active in shorter bursts than adults, Nemeth says.
Include 3 Types of Exercise
Just like adults, children need different types of exercise to stay healthy and avoid getting hurt.
Aerobic activity, or the kind that gets the heart and lungs pumping. Most of kids’ 60 minutes a day should be this type. Good ways to get it include walking to school, hiking, or skateboarding. At least 3 days a week, children should do vigorous aerobic activity, meaning it makes them breathe more heavily than normal. They can run, swim, or do fast-paced dancing.