With our stressed out, over-scheduled lifestyle, it's easy to overlook the importance of daily physical activity. Many children can't wait to get home from school just so they can spend the rest of the day on the couch watching TV. Running, biking or playing outside might not be on their radar.
Being physically active is essential for all members of the family. If you are wondering where to start with exercise for children, the F.I.T.T. (frequency, intensity, time and type) principle is one way to remember the general guidelines for what should be included in a fitness plan. Every person has different goals and abilities, but with this principle, a general standard is set for children and adults alike.
Do some type of physical activity every single day.
Choose an activity that is moderate in intensity. Moderate intensity should feel comfortable, but you still feel that you are working. If you can carry on a conversation as if you were sitting down and talking with a friend, it's too easy. Also try to add a few more vigorous activities throughout the week. Vigorous activity is activity that makes you work and breathe harder.
Try for at least 60 minutes of activity each day. This can be done all at once or added together over several shorter, 10- to 15-minute blocks of activity. Breaking it up into smaller blocks of time is a great way to start a new program or fit activities into a busy schedule.
The type of activity can include team sports (basketball, field hockey), individual sports (running, singles tennis), recreational activities (running, skiing), family activities (biking, tag), active hobbies and walking or bicycling for fun and transportation. Weight-bearing activities that promote muscle strength, flexibility and bone health should also be done two to three times per week.
Kids aren't always naturally active, so it's important to limit their screen time. Remember to make time for your child to be active every single day. You're their role model. Your child is looking at you to help shape their perception of exercise. Of course, the most important thing is that your child looks at physical activity as fun. When kids find an activity they love, they'll want to do it, and that's what will form a life-long love of movement.