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Why is Regular Exercise Important For Children?

author image Mindy Baca
Mindy Baca has been writing about education and public health since 2009, with work appearing on various websites. Baca's interests include maternal, infant and child health, health disparities and public-health ethics. She holds a Master of Science in public health from Walden University.
Why is Regular Exercise Important For Children?
Children are exercising together outside. Photo Credit: Thinkstock Images/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Most children enjoy being physically active, and the exercise they get while they play contributes to the development of strong bones and muscles. Unfortunately, there are an increasing number of barriers to exercise for kids in today’s modern world. Television and video games, parents who work long hours, cuts to the physical education programs and recess in public schools and unsafe neighborhoods can make it difficult for kids to get the minimum amount of exercise they need to be healthy.

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Exercise Guidelines for Children

Most children should get a minimum of 60 minutes of exercise every day, according to the American Heart Association. Their periods of activity can be broken into multiple sessions as long as they add up to about an hour of exercise. And unlike adults, children do not need to follow regimented exercise programs designed to achieve specific results. Simply moving around, running and jumping and climbing are generally sufficient to meet their needs. Typical playground games will increase your child’s endurance, flexibility and strength, according to KidsHealth from Nemours. Encourage your children to follow their interests, whether those are team sports or individual activities, to provide sufficient cardio activities in their active day.

Motor Skills

Regular physical activity in children and adolescents is essential to developing and perfecting fine and gross motor skills, which are important to a child’s coordination, self-confidence, ability to socialize, as well as academic performance, according to the Encyclopedia of Children’s Health. Children who exercise regularly are less anxious and have a positive outlook.

Weight Management

Childhood obesity is a serious concern in the United States. As of 2010, nearly 17 percent of children between the ages of 2 and 19 are obese in this country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Children who are overweight or obese are at an increased risk of being obese as adults and of developing chronic illnesses such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Regular exercise, in conjunction with a healthy diet, can help your child to maintain a healthy weight.

Long-Term Benefits

Teaching your children to develop healthy habits is important to their health and development and can benefit them well into the future. Kids who follow a healthy diet and exercise regularly are more likely than kids who are sedentary to stay active as adults. Although more research needs to be done, at-risk children who are physically active on a regular basis reduce their risk of developing chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes as adults, reports the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Also, building strong bones, particularly during adolescence, may reduce your child’s risk of developing osteoarthritis later in life.

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