Natural Pediatrician Discusses Setting Up Your Children for Success with Exercise

Hello Mamas, Let talk about exercise. Exercise is important for people of all ages, but it is very important for children and adolescents. Not only does it help their overall physical development, it also helps them cognitively and to develop good habits for the future. Regular physical activity helps children and adolescent’s development in numerous ways:

  • It improves cardiorespiratory fitness.
  • Helps build strong bones and muscles which help reduce the risk of developing injuries.
  • Improves balance
  • Helps develop beneficial body composition which lowers the risk for type 2 diabetes and obesity.
  • Boosts the immune system and gut microbiome
  • Reduces the risk of developing other health conditions such as; heart disease, cancer, and high blood pressure.
  • Weight training protects and strengthens joints, tendons, and muscles.

Cognitively it helps with:

  • Memory and processing speed
  • Attention and is especially helpful for children and adolescents with ADHD symptoms.
  • Better sleep
  • Reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression
  • Helps with mood

It is recommended that children receive the following physical activity daily:

  • For infantsphysical movement several times a day through interactive floor-based play.
  • For kids age 3 to 5: three hours or more of physical activity. This should include light activity, active play, and energetic movement, like hopping, running, and jumping.
  • For kids 6 to 17 years old: 60 minutes of moderate or vigorous aerobic activity. This should include muscle-strengthening and bone-strengthening activities at least 3 days a week.

Aerobic activities can me done moderately or vigorously. Moderate intensity aerobic activities can include brisk walking, bicycle riding, hiking, riding scooters, swimming, softball, baseball, and house and yard work, for the older children. Vigorous activities include; running, bicycle riding (with hills), active games involving running and chasing, jumping rope, cross-country skiing, martial arts, soccer, basketball, swimming, tennis, and vigorous dancing. Muscle strengthening can include games of tug of war, rope or tree climbing, climbing on playground equipment, and resistance exercises using body weight or resistance bands (weight machines and hand-held weights may be used for adolescents). Bone strengthening exercises can include hopping, skipping, jumping rope, running, and sports that involve jumping or rapid changes in direction.  In today society kids and adolescents are spending hours sitting around every day in front of screens (Computers, TVs, tablets, gaming systems, and smartphones). This excess of motionless activity can lead to unwanted weight gain. Having a daily exercise routine helps children and adolescents build the confidence and desire to be physically active for life. Exercising with your child not only betters your health but also increases your child’s desire to exercise as well. So make sure you and your little ones, and big ones, are getting up and moving each day. -Dr. Kenneth Akey