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January 1999 - Volume 2 - Issue 1

Health: New Exercise Guidelines for Kids

By Rachelle Vander Schaaf from PARENTS magazine

How active should a child be? According to the first comprehensive exercise guidelines for kids, issued by the National Association for Sport and Physical Education, Children should be active for at least 60 minutes a day, ideally for up to several hours.

Here is a look at the activities kids 5 through 9 need:

1. Lifestyle Activities: These involve large-muscle groups. They include walking, climbing, tumbling, kicking, and skipping.

2. Active Aerobics: Encourage your child to swim, bicycle, skate, and just run around to build her cardiovascular fitness. Let her set her own pace.

3. Active Sports and Recreation: Encourage family activities, such as cycling and walking. Organized sports aren't right for all kids, but some kids enjoy sports involving catching, throwing and running.

4. Flexibility Exercises: Young children don't need formal stretching. Tumbling or hanging from a jungle gym, for example, helps kids with flexibility.

5. Strength Exercises: Activities such as climbing on playground equipment or pumping their legs while swinging help children build strength.

6. Rest: After 10 to 15 minutes of movement, a child needs to recharge with a break. Discourage long periods of inactivity, such as sitting in front of the television.

1998 Gruner + Jahr USA Publishing. Excerpts reprinted from PARENTS magazine by permission. (October 1998 Issue)

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