The Importance of Exercise for Kids is more important today than ever. Exercise for kids is important to prevent childhood obesity and optimize cognitive development. The latter is a complex process that depends on several factors, including nutrition, social interaction, and physical activity.
This multifactorial process is primarily reliant on the parents’ commitment, as they can make a big difference in how to raise their child, and consequently, how well their cognitive abilities develop.
The good news is that parents don’t need any special talent or financial investments to achieve the best possible results.
All that they have to do is provide a loving environment that helps their child’s brain cells connect with one another – a process that’s known as neural synapsis. You see, the process of forming new connections between neurons is dependent on the release of certain hormones, such as brain-derivative neurotrophic factor (BDNF).
In this piece, we will cover some scientific sources that detail the importance of exercise for kids.
Why is it important for your kids to exercise?
Today, kids are more sedentary than ever. Spending hours in front of TVs, computers, and smartphones means there is no actual time for exercise.
Therefore, one of the effective ways to motivate them to exercise is by limiting their screen time. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), parents should:
- Limit the screen time of their children (e.g., TV, video games, TikTok, social media)
- Only allow 1 hour of screen time for children aged 2 to 5 years old
- Educate their kids about the importance of staying active
- Engage with their kids in fun activities that stimulate the body (e.g., jogging, outdoor games)
- Turn off screens during mealtimes to prevent overattachment to these devices
How Much Exercise Is Enough?
As a parent, you should encourage your kids to be active every day. The Physical Activity Guidelines recommend that school-age kids have at least 60 minutes of moderate to intense physical activity per day. Examples include strength training and cardiovascular exercises. Experts recommend getting at least 3 days of exercise per week.
For younger kids, there are no precise recommendations. However, aiming for 3 hours of moderate activity per day may be appropriate. To keep things fun, the activities should include planned, adult-led physical activity, as well as unstructured active free play.
How to raise active kids
Here are a few tips to help your kids stay active:
- Encourage them to engage in age-appropriate exercises
- Set and follow up with a regular schedule of physical activity
- Carve the culture of staying active from an early age
- Embrace a healthier lifestyle yourself to be a role model for the family
- Engage in group activities as a family
- Make sure to keep it fun
Keeping your kids active from a young age will teach them the importance of this habit, which will yield unquantifiable benefits during their entire lives. We hope that this article helped understand and appreciate the potential benefits of exercise for kids.
Here’s to your health!
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Dr. Kevin Crawford