Being physically active is good for children’s bodies. At least sixty minutes of activity each day encourages children to build endurance and stamina, grow strong muscles and bones, and maintain a healthy weight.

According to Cris Dobrosielski, a personal trainer and spokesperson for the American Council on Exercise, “In general, many kids in the United States aren’t getting enough physical activity. There is very little physical education in schools, recess is often short, and kids are coming home and not having opportunities to be active.”

Thus, it is essential to encourage your child to participate in activities that are age-appropriate, offer variety, and are fun for them. That way you will have an easier time getting them to participate willingly and to their fullest potential.

Levels of Intensity

When considering whether an activity is of moderate or vigorous intensity, there are a few ways to gauge the difference.

The most basic is to consider the heart and breathing rates of the child performing the activity. Moderately intense activity causes a child to breathe harder and their heart to beat faster than normal. Likewise, vigorously intense activity causes the heartbeat and breathing of the child to increase much more than normal, beyond that of moderate intensity activities.

Another way to judge intensity is to compare your child’s activity level with that of the average child. If your child rides the bus to school, spends the majority of their free time watching television or playing sedentary games, and forgoes outdoor, athletic activities then they are experiencing zero physical intensity.

If they walk to and from school with friends on a daily basis, that can be considered moderately intense activity. Actively running during free play or organized sports is vigorously intense.

Three Types of Essential Exercise

The first type of exercise that is essential to good physical health is aerobic activity. This type should make up the majority of your child’s sixty minutes of physical activity each day. It can include either moderate intensity exercise such as fast-paced walking or another high intensity exercise such as running.

The second type is exercise that strengthens your child’s muscles. This type of activity should be participated in at least three days per week and includes activities such as gymnastics and pushups.

The third and final kind of exercise essential for physical health is bone-strengthening exercises. As with the previous type of exercise, these should be done at least three days per week. Exercises such as jumping rope and running fall under the category of bone strengthening.

What is the difference between the three essential types?

Many of the activities your children participate in fall under the headings of more than one of the three essential types of exercise. This means that it should be easy for you to make sure that your child is getting all the recommended amounts.

Moderate Intensity Aerobic Exercise

This includes active recreation such as hiking, skateboarding, bicycling, rollerblading, canoeing, and cross-country skiing among others. It also includes house and yard work such as sweeping or raking leaves. Games that require throwing and catching such as basketball, baseball, and volleyball are also in this category.

Vigorous Intensity Aerobic Exercise

Active games that involve running and/or chasing such as tag, flag football, or soccer are in this category of physical activity. So are sports such as ice or field hockey, swimming, tennis, and basketball. In addition, jumping rope, martial arts like karate, cheerleading, gymnastics, and vigorous dancing fall into this category.

Muscle Strengthening Exercises

These exercises include resistance exercises that use body weight or resistance bands for younger children and weight machines and hand held weights for adolescents. The game tug of war is also excellent for any age group.

Push-ups are also excellent for building muscle strength. It is recommended that younger children do modified push-ups with their knees on the floor. Climbing ropes, walls, and trees as well as swinging on playground equipment also help in this regard. Cheerleading, gymnastics, and dancing are further methods for building a child’s muscle strength.

Bone Strengthening Exercises

Any game or sport that involves hopping, skipping, or jumping is excellent for developing this essential element of physical health. This includes sports such as gymnastics, volleyball, basketball, and tennis as well as free style activities such as jumping rope and running.

Wrapping It Up

Less than three in ten American high school students get an hour or more of physical activity per week. As the electronic age rolls on there are more and more distractions vying for your child’s attention. Help them build a healthy foundation by making sure they get enough physical activity every week.

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