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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
offer variety!

Just make sure your child or adolescent is doing three types of
physical activity:

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.


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