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How much physical activity do children need?
Children and adolescents should do 60 minutes (1 hour) or more of
physical activity each day.
This may sound like a lot, but don’t worry! Your child may already be
meeting the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. Encourage your
child to participate in activities that are age-appropriate, enjoyable and
Just make sure your child or adolescent is doing three types of
1. Aerobic Activity- Aerobic activity should make up most of your
child’s 60 or more minutes of physical activity each day. This
can include either moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as
brisk walking, or vigorous-intensity activity, such as running.
Be sure to include vigorous-intensity aerobic activity on at
least 3 days per week.
2. Muscle Strengthening- Include muscle strengthening activities,
such as gymnastics or push-ups, at least 3 days per week as
part of your child’s 60 or more minutes.
3. Bone Strengthening- Include bone strengthening activities, such
as jumping rope or running, at least 3 days per week as part of
your child’s 60 or more minutes.
How do I know if my child’s aerobic activity
is moderate- or vigorous- intensity?
Here are two ways to think about moderate- and vigorous-intensity:
1. As a rule of thumb, on a scale of 0 to 10, where sitting is a 0 and
the highest level of activity is a 10, moderate-intensity activity is a
5 or 6. When your son does moderate-intensity activity, his heart
will beat faster than normal and he will breathe harder than normal.
Vigorous-intensity activity is a level 7 or 8. When your son does
vigorous-intensity activity, his heart will beat much faster than
normal and he will breathe much harder than normal.
2. Another way to judge intensity is to think about the activity your
child is doing and compare it to the average child. What amount
of intensity would the average child use? For example, when
your daughter walks to school with friends each morning, she’s
probably doing moderate-intensity aerobic activity. But while she
is at school, when she runs, or chases others by playing tag
during recess, she’s probably doing vigorous-intensity activity.
What do you mean by “age-appropriate” activities?
Some physical activity is better-suited for children than adolescents.
For example, children do not usually need formal muscle-strengthening
programs, such as lifting weights. Younger children usually strengthen
their muscles when they do gymnastics, play on a jungle gym or climb
trees. As children grow older and become adolescents, they may start
structured weight programs. For example, they may do these types of
programs along with their football or basketball team practice.