How Long Should Kids Work Out?
In the past, no one ever asked how long children should workout because most kids ventured out and played hard every day. They built forts, played kickball, and climbed trees until the streetlights came on. Today’s kids, however, are more likely to be found in front of a video game or computer screen than playing pick-up baseball in the park. So what is the right amount of exercise for kids? The answer depends on your child’s age.
Children Under Five
Young children who can walk without assistance should be active each day for a minimum of three hours. This activity should be spread throughout the day and can take place indoors or out.
To encourage activity in your young child or toddler:
- Go to a playground where he or she can run, jump or climb.
- Play tag in your backyard.
- Keep the garage stocked with riding toys, balls and a tricycle.
- Jump in piles of leaves together in autumn.
- Build snowmen and make snow angels in winter.
- Walk to the supermarket or library together. Take your toddler out of the stroller for a few minutes of the journey.
- Take the stairs together instead of the escalator.
- Limit your child’s TV time to establish healthier habits later in life.
- Sign up for a sports league, tumbling class or other activity with children.
- Set a good example by using your gym gloves or fitness gloves often at home, letting your toddler see you being active or taking a “Mommy and Me” type class together.
Children & Young Adults Aged 5-18
Children and young people in this age group should get at least one hour of aerobic exercise each day.
The hour should include a mix of:
- vigorous-intensity activities, like running, gymnastics, martial arts, riding a bike on hilly ground or at a fast speed, energetic dancing or aerobics, and
- moderate-intensity activities, such as walking to school, rollerblading, skateboarding or playing on the playground.
Older kids and teens should also incorporate strength-building activities into their workouts. Get gym gloves for the whole family, then encourage your kids to build strength by doing activities like resistance exercises, rock climbing, playing tug-of-war or doing push-ups. Be sure not to push kids under 18 to workout like an adult; it can lead to injury and stunt proper growth among other health issues. Remember, always let kids be kids.
How do you encourage your kids to be more active? Share your best tips for getting fit as a family with our readers in the comments section below.