See if this scenario sounds familiar—your child has come home from school with 2 hours of homework, including studying for a math test the following day. He also needs to start working on a science fair project. And don’t forget the clarinet lesson that’s on his calendar as well. There seems to be barely enough time to fit in dinner and a bath.Finding Time to Be Active

No wonder some kids feel that they just don’t have time for physical activity. Their schedules are filled to overflowing, and when they’re overbooked, it’s easy for physical activity to fall by the wayside.

As a parent, you need to intervene to make sure your child has time for all the things that are important. Whether he’s overweight, physical activity needs to be a priority.

Sit down with your child and structure his time after school so he can fit in everything that’s most essential. For example, in planning the following day, you might say something like, “You have a block of after-school time tomorrow. Maybe the time immediately after school isn’t the best time for homework, because it will take up the daylight hours you could be outside playing.Why don’t you think about choosing to play outdoors for 30 minutes or an hour after you get home? Then we’ll go to your clarinet lesson, and once you’ve eaten dinner and it’s dark outside, you can do your homework. The evening is the time when you used to watch TV anyway, so it’s a good time to get your homework done. And let’s think about rescheduling your clarinet lessons for the weekends.”

As a parent, you can help your child find the opportunities to be active. If you’re creative, the time will almost always be there.

Energy Out: Daily Physical Activity Recommendations

​Physical activity in children and adolescents improves strength and endurance, builds healthy bones and lean muscles, develops ​motor skills and coordination, reduces fat, and promotes emotional well-being (reduces feelings of depression and anxiety). Activities should be appropriate for their age and fun, as well as offer variety.

The daily recommendation for physical activity for children 6 years and older is at least 60 minutes per day. Active play is the best exercise for younger children.

The types of physical activity should be moderate to vigorous. Vigorous activity is activity that makes you breathe hard and sweat. During vigorous activity, it would be difficult to have a talk with someone. Some activities, such as bicycling, can be of moderate or vigorous intensity, depending upon level of effort.

The 60 minutes does not need to be done all at once. Physical activity can be broken down into shorter blocks of time. For example, 20 minutes walking to and from school, 10 minutes jumping rope, and 30 minutes at the playground all add up to 60 minutes of physical activity. If your child is not active, start from where you are and build from there.

Types of Sports and Activities for Children and Teens (and Parents, Too!)

Aerobic Exercises

  • Use body’s large muscle groups
  • Strengthen the heart and lungs
  • Examples of moderate-intensity aerobic exercises include:
    • Brisk walking
    • Bicycle riding
    • Dancing
    • Hiking
    • Rollerblading
    • Skateboarding
    • Martial arts such as karate or tae kwon do (can be vigorous too)
  • Examples of vigorous-intensity aerobic activities include:
    • Basketball
    • Bicycle riding
    • Games such as tag
    • Ice or field hockey
    • Jumping rope
    • Martial arts
    • Running
    • Soccer
    • Swimming
    • Tennis

Muscle-Strengthening (or Resistance) Activities

  • Work major muscle groups of the body (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulder, arms)
  • Examples of muscle-strengthening activities include:
    • Games such as tug-of-war
    • Push-ups or modified push-ups (with knees on the floor)
    • Resistance exercises using body weight or resistance bands
    • Rope or tree climbing
    • Sit-ups (curl-ups or crunches)
    • Swinging on playground equipment/bars

Bone-Strengthening (Weight-Bearing) Activities

  • Tone and build muscles and bone mass
  • Can be aerobic exercises and muscle-strengthening activities
  • Examples of bone-strengthening activities include:
    • Basketball
    • Hopping, skipping, jumping
    • Gymnastics
    • Jumping rope
    • Running
    • Tennis
    • Volleybal
    • Push-ups
    • Resistance exercises using body weight or resistance bands

About Strength Training

Strength training(or resistance training) uses a resistance to increase an individual’s ability to exert force. It involves the use of weight machines, free weights, bands or tubing, or the individual’s own body weight. This is not the same as Olympic lifting, power lifting, or body building, which are not recommended for children. Check with your child’s doctor before starting any strength training exercises.

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