Exercise and Children

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Published on May 22, 2020

Exercise and Children

Photograph of a father and young son doing push-ups togetherExercise is an important part of keeping children healthy. Encouraging healthy lifestyles in kids and teens is important for when they grow older. Habits that are learned in childhood are more likely to stay with the child into adulthood. Some changes in lifestyle can be harder to make the older a person becomes.

The best way to promote healthy lifestyles is for the whole family to be involved.

Creating an exercise plan

A daily exercise program helps create good heart-healthy habits. The following exercise guidelines for children can help you and your child plan activities:

  • Children need at least 60 minutes of medium to vigorous physical activity on most days. This helps to maintain good health and fitness. And it helps kids stay at a healthy weight as they grow.
  • Limit children’s screen time (TV, video, and computers) to less than 2 hours a day. Replace these sitting activities with activities that require more movement.

Even doing low-to-medium intensity activities for as little as 30 minutes a day can be helpful. These activities may include the following:

  • Pleasure walking
  • Climbing stairs
  • Dancing
  • Home exercise

“Regular aerobic activity increases a child’s capacity for exercise,” said Ernesto Ong MD, a pediatrician at PIH Health Hacienda Heights medical office Building. Dr. Ong adds that, “It can help prevent heart diseases and type 2 diabetes and help to lower blood pressure.”

Aerobic activities are continuous activities that raise the heart rate and breathing rate. To prevent dehydration, encourage children to drink fluids often during physical activity. And to drink several glasses of water or other fluids without added sugar after the physical activity is done. Examples of vigorous activities may include the following:

  • Brisk walking
  • Running
  • Swimming
  • Cycling
  • Rollerblading or roller skating
  • Jumping rope
  • Playing on the playground
  • Dancing
  • Gymnastics
  • Hiking
  • Soccer
  • Tag games

Exercise on a regular basis is part of a healthy lifestyle. But some children can exercise too much. Talk with your child’s healthcare provider if:

  • Your child begins losing weight and falls below expected growth patterns
  • Exercise gets in the way of other normal activities including school

Benefits from regular exercise or physical activity

The following are just some of the benefits of regular exercise or physical activity:

  • Improves blood circulation throughout the body
  • Keeps weight under control
  • Improves blood cholesterol levels
  • Prevents and manages high blood pressure
  • Prevents bone loss
  • Boosts energy level
  • Releases tension
  • Improves the ability to fall asleep quickly and sleep well
  • Improves self-image
  • Helps manage stress
  • Counters anxiety and depression
  • Increases enthusiasm and optimism
  • Increases muscle strength


To find a PIH Health pediatrician, visit PIHHealth.org/Peds.



© 2000-2020 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.


The information in Healthy Living Online is for educational purposes only.  It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice.  The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation, or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan.