Exercise/Physical activity is important for everyone, but more so for children and adolescents as it plays a key role in the development of their personality. Hence, it has increasingly become important to encourage a healthy lifestyle among them. Having said this how much children need to exercise depends on age.
Why Is Exercise Important For Children & Adolescents?
Exercise for children is important for both their physical and mental well-being. By staying physically active, children and adolescents can reduce the risk of stress, depression and other mental health issues. Physical activity can also help teenagers maintain a positive body image because physical activity is beneficial to the human body.
How Does Exercise Benefit Children?
- It improves immunity
- Helps in building better focus
- It helps in strengthening the lungs and the cardiovascular system
- Keeps the children in a happy mood due to the release of feel-good hormones called endorphins
- Helps in maintaining good brain health and also helps in enhancing memory
- Decreases the risk of developing certain diseases, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure in later years
- Helps in maintaining a healthy weight
- Exercise can help children of all ages and can prevent weak bones (osteoporosis) in later years by strengthening bones and joints
- Helps in performing well in sports
How Long Should Children Exercise For?
Children and adolescents should do 60 minutes or more of physical activity each day. Children and adolescents are often active in short bursts of time rather than for sustained periods of time, and these short bursts can add up to meet physical activity needs. Physical activities for children and adolescents should be developmentally-appropriate, fun, and offer variety.
Having a balanced exercise routine is good. let’s take a look at
The three parts of a balanced exercise routine are Aerobic exercise, strength training and flexibility training.
- Aerobic exercises
Aerobic exercises increase the heart rate and breathing rate. When you give your heart and lungs this kind of workout regularly, they get stronger. Aerobic exercises should be fun and easy exercises for children that they will love to engage in. Some of the aerobic exercises that your children will enjoy include Swimming, Skating, Cycling, Jogging, Dancing, Skipping, Football, etc. Some team sports that provide a great aerobic workout are basketball, hockey, rowing, cricket and badminton.
- Strength Training
Go for exercises that strengthen bones and muscles. Experts recommend that children and adolescents, ages 6 to 17, should get at least one hour of moderate to high-intensity aerobic exercise every day. Strength-training activities that build muscle should also be part of a 60-minute exercise routine on at least three days of the week.
Young people ages 13 to 17 should do a variety of moderate to vigorous physical activity for 60 minutes each day. Along with aerobic exercises like running, jogging, fast walking, circuit training, one should also include sit-ups, push-ups, lunges and squats.
Some of the Exercises Include:
- Lunges: Children can improve their balance and strengthen their legs with some lunges
- Squats: are the best for building quads, hamstrings, and glutes, and they help to strengthen your child’s lower back as well
- Push-ups: can also be done on the knees or on the feet, according to the child’s ability. Don’t worry if they don’t have the form right initially
Encourage your child to Warm up before exercise and cool down after exercise to prevent muscle soreness and injury.
Warm up before exercise: Warming up before exercise prevents injury by softening the muscles and making them supple. Some warm-up exercises you can do are:
- Slow jogging or walking
- Stretching all the muscles they’re going to use (hold each and stretch for 8 to 10 seconds, but never until it hurts)
Cool down after exercise: Cooling down after high-intensity exercise is important for relaxing and softening the muscles. Cool down or ballistic stretch begins to lower the heart rate, improves flexibility and will speed up recovery from a workout.
Some Cool Down Examples Include:
- Hamstring Stretch: The stretch helps Hamstring muscles that are on the back of the thigh 2
- Side Lunge: This stretch works the inner thighs
- Calf Stretch: This stretch feels good after running or walking.
- Butterfly Stretch: Children are usually quite adept to the butterfly stretch and it relaxes them well after a good physical activity.
Nutrition is Equally Important When You Exercise
While exercise is very important, nutrition is equally important for children and adolescents to lead an active and healthy life.
Children who eat healthy, well-balanced meals and snacks will get the nutrients needed to perform well in sports. Kids and teens who play a sport that can involve 1½ to 2 hours or more of activity in a day, in particular, may need to consume more balanced nutrition to keep up with increased energy and fluid demands.