Physical activity is important for good physical and mental health, as well as a healthy body weight. It reduces the risk for certain cancers, diabetes and high blood pressure, and contributes to healthy bones and muscles. It is also important for children’s growth and development. The benefits of physical activity are not just related to reducing risk for chronic disease and helping maintain a healthy weight. Physical activity has also been shown to have positive effects on learning. Evidence suggests that students in elementary through high school perform better academically when they are physically active.
How Much Do We Need?
Children and youth need 60 minutes to several hours daily of moderate to vigorous physical activity. Choose a variety of activities to keep it interesting. The physical activity does not have to occur at one time. It can occur in several 10-15 minute sessions throughout the day. Adults need at least 30 minutes of physical activity to reduce the risk of chronic disease. More physical activity is needed to maintain weight, loose weight or improve fitness. The most important thing is to get started. Walk after dinner, dance to a song on the radio, move during commercials when watching TV, park further away from your destination and add some steps.
Focus on play and enjoyment for you and your family.
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Strong WB, Malina RM, Bumkie CJ, Daniels SR, Dishman RK, Gutin B., et al. Evidence based physical activity for school-age youth. Journal of Pediatrics. 2005; 146, 732-37.
Children need greater amounts of physical activity in 2004. National Association for Sport and Physical Education. Available at www.aapherd.org/naspe.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2005. Available at www.healthierus.gov/dietaryguidelines/.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Maternal and Child Health Bureau. The National Survey of Children’s Health 2003. Available at http://mchb.hrsa.gov/overweight/.
California Department of Education. Getting results: developing safe healthy kids update 5. Available at http://www.gettingresults.org.
Move More Everyday Introductory Article