Exercise gives your child what he needs to maintain an active lifestyle, staying at a healthy weight, growing on course and developing healthy bones. For your 8-year-old, an adequate amount of exercise can also help him to build a positive outlook on life. Your child’s ideal activity regimen doesn’t necessarily have to be the same as his peers' regimens. However, you should keep track of his exercise needs to ensure that he’s meeting minimum recommendations.
Most kids between ages five and 12 should get a minimum of 60 minutes of physical activity every day or most days, recommends the National Association for Sport and Physical Education. The majority of this exercise should be done intermittently in several 15-plus-minute sessions instead of one single session.
Types of Exercise
Your child should engage in a variety of physical activities to achieve optimal health and fitness. Most of the exercise your child gets should be aerobic in nature, which means it will get her heart pumping, increase her breathing rate and make her break at least a light sweat. She should do at least some moderate-intensity aerobic exercise such as brisk walking and some vigorous-intensity exercise such as running around while playing tag. At least three days a week, part of her 60 minutes should come from muscle-strengthening activities such as gymnastics and bone-strengthening exercises such as jumping rope, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Age-Appropriate Physical Activities
Some physical activities are more suitable for certain 8-year-olds than others. For instance, the typical 8-year-old doesn’t need to enter a formal weight lifting program, but she will get stronger just by playing on a jungle gym. Some of your child’s daily activities should also promote sharpening of simple skills such as throwing and jumping because kids are still developing these abilities from ages 6 to 8, according to KidsHealth from Nemours. Some 8-year-olds enjoy organized sports such as soccer, but non-competitive leagues are better for your child at this age. If your child isn’t interested in team sports, don’t push the issue but let him explore options such as karate and biking, for example.
Encouraging Active Living
Limit your child’s time in front of the TV, computer, video game system or any other sedentary distraction. By being forced to get up off the couch after two hours, she will be more likely to engage in a more active pastime such as playing outside with her friends. Also find ways to encourage an active lifestyle rather than merely adding up your child’s “exercise” minutes. For example, invest in an assortment of active toys and exercise equipment such as balls and rollerblades and take a walk with your family after dinner every night.
- KidsHealth from Nemours: Fitness and Your 6- to 12-Year-Old
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Physical Activity for Everyone
- MedlinePlus: Exercise for Children
- National Association for Sport and Physical Education: Physical Activity for Children: A Statement of Guidelines for Children Ages 5 - 12, 2nd Edition