The American Heart Association's Recommendations for Physical Activity in Children
Child health is perhaps one of the most legitimate areas of concern for all parents. It is natural to worry about your child’s health; if he/she is getting the proper amount of exercise, if he/she is eating the proper types and amounts of food.
Staying healthy now may not seem so easy to do, what with the internet so overly saturated with different exercise paths, plans, and opinions.
There are, however, a few concrete things to always consider, as approved by the American Heart Association.
Why Is Physical Activity Important for My Child?
Physical inactivity, as well as a general, unhealthy lifestyle, are both major risk factors for developing coronary artery disease, the most common type of heart disease, which occurs when the arteries that pump blood to the heart become hard and narrow.
Physical inactivity can also increase your risk of a stroke, high blood pressure, low HDL (healthy) cholesterol, and diabetes.
How Much Exercise Does My Child Need?
As such, the American Heart Association suggests that children above age two should participate in at least an hour daily of moderate-to-rigorous physical activity. If it is too difficult to find full sixty-minute time slots, you can split this into two thirty-minute, or four fifteen-minute, chunks.
The importance of exercise and a healthy lifestyle is clear; higher life expectancy and lower risk of heart disease.
People who lead physically active lives are also psychologically healthier, with less risk of low self-esteem.
Make it Fun
You may be wondering how in the world you can get your kids off the T.V. and into the gym, but the reality is neither quite so difficult nor quite that extreme.
The best way to keep your kids active is to make the exercise fun. It doesn’t need to be complex. Go to the playground. Hang from the jungle gym. Climb a tree (safely). Use your imagination to make it simple yet fun and effective.
Dancing, swimming, playing tag or other out-door games, rec-sports, etc. will all serve to meet the American Heart Association’s recommendations for daily physical activity.
Set a Personal Example
It is also important to walk this path with your children. Be their role model. If you tell them to eat healthy and exercise, but you don’t follow suit, they’ll have little motivation to stay active.
Eat what your kids eat, play these sports and other games with your kids, if you go the gym, take your kids with you, they’ll love being like Mom or Dad.
If your child is overweight or uncoordinated, start small; if he/she can’t run, go for long walks. Coordination and weight loss will come with patience and dedication.
The goal here is to inspire motivation for your kids to care about improving their own health. That’s why it is so important to start consistent physical activity at a young age.
Keep it fun, keep it varied, couple it with healthy eating, and better the health of your children for the rest of their lives.
I’m a personal trainer based in Denver (Matrix Gym) and a true fitness nerd. If I’m not training clients or working out at my home gym, I’m probably skiing, cycling or hiking with my dog Rufus.
Get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org