We all know that kids need exercise, but how much exercise should kids be getting? And how do we ensure they’re getting enough when those too-cold- (or too hot) to-play-outside days come around? Julie Boman, MD, a Children’s pediatrician, has some tips and ideas to share on making sure kids are getting the full 60 minutes a day of the exercise they need.
It’s important to note that while all kids need 60 minutes of exercise, the way that looks for your preschooler and the way that looks for your middle-schooler might be different.
“Younger kids need frequent bursts of activity versus an hour of activity straight, where an older child can get their exercise by being active for an hour,” said Dr. Boman.
So what about those days — those miserably cold days — where it’s deemed unsafe for kids to play outside? Or, as we dream of warmer days, those hot summer days where the heat index is so high it’s dangerously hot for kids to be outside?
Some of the more obvious options to get your kids active would be indoor parks, community centers, YMCAs and parks and recreation centers, most of which will offer special extended hours on the days that outside play might be limited.
“Younger kids just need a space to run,” Dr. Boman said, noting that this is when an unfinished basement can come in handy.
You don’t have to get too crazy to get kids active, though — games like hide and seek, building forts and even cleaning the house can get kids active and exercising.
The only time you’ll hear Dr. Boman suggest video games is when it comes to moving your body versus your thumbs, and there are plenty of games out there that do just that.
“Dancing games on the (Nintendo) Wii (or Wii U) are a good workout, even for adults,” she said.
Another more creative way to get kids active is by looking for active apps or videos such as the IronKids App, which was developed by the American Academy of Pediatrics and is available for iPhone or iPad for $3.99. The app has several different workouts for cardio and core, and kids can follow the app for five-minute bursts of circuit training and weightlifting using household items.
Don’t have a smartphone or tablet? No problem. A simple YouTube search will bring you thousands of workout videos for kids and adults.
“It’s all about exploring ways to keep kids interested,” Dr. Boman said.
What are your tried-and-true ways to keep kids active and exercising all year round?
For more information about Children’s childhood obesity efforts, contact Anna Youngerman at [email protected].