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Exercise in children

Last reviewed dd mmm yyyy. Last edited dd mmm yyyy

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Physical activity in children

In the US only about 1 in 4 children meeting the daily recommendation of 60 minutes or more per day (1)

  • US physical activity guidelines recommend that children aged 3 to 5 years be physically active throughout most of the day and that children aged 6 to 17 years have at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity daily

  • 81% of adolescents aged 11-17 years are insufficiently physically active globally, with significant differences in the prevalence of insufficient physical activity across genders, regions, and countries (2)

  • moderate to vigorous activity means the heart rate is raised higher than the normal resting range and is associated with sweating and deeper breathing (1)

  • an evidence base reviewed (i.e., existing and new systematic reviews) provides evidence that greater amounts and higher intensities of physical activity as well as different types of physical activity (i.e., aerobic and muscle and bone strengthening activities) are associated with improved health outcomes (primarily intermediate outcomes) in children 5-17 years (2)

  • are different types of exercise including aerobic exercise, muscle strengthening, and bone strengthening that all have different benefits (1)
    • is important to include all 3 types of exercise in your child's routine with each done at least 3 days per week as part of at least 60 minutes per day
    • aerobic exercise
      • should be the majority of the physical activity and can include walking, running, swimming, dancing, cycling, and jumping rope
    • muscle strengthening
      • can include climbing trees, ropes, or playground equipment, doing push-ups, or participating in gymnastics for young children
    • bone strengthening exercises
      • include jumping, playing hopscotch, or playing sports such as tennis, basketball, and gymnastics.


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