Wednesday, September 7, 2011

How Much Exercise Do Children Need?

Should children exercise everyday? If so, for how long? How much is enough? How much is too much? In a New York Times article, Gina Kolata reports that these questions are not easily answered:

"You're a parent and you want to do your best to be sure your children are healthy. So you worry about physical activity. How much exercise is enough? Will being active protect them against diabetes, cancer, or heart disease later in life? Will it prevent them from getting fat?

"You search for information, for official guidelines on physical activity. And, you soon discover, there is plenty of advice — at least 27 sets of official guidelines, notes Harold W. Kohl, an epidemiologist at the University of Texas School of Public Health in Austin who formerly worked at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"But the problem in making recommendations is a lack of good data.

"We can’t “clarify the dose of physical activity and exercise that’s good for kids” as precisely as we think we can, Dr. Kohl said."

(Read the entire article here:

The National Association for Sport and Physical education "promotes physical activity of at least 30-60 minutes on most or all days of the week for elementary children (up to age 10), focusing on developmentally appropriate activities." (R.R. Pate) Adolescents (age 11-21) "should engage in moderate to vigorous physical activity for a minimum of 20 minutes, three or more days of the week, to promote health and chronic disease prevention as adults." (ACSM)

Generally speaking, children should be encouraged to get active through sports or free play. But, it all starts at home. Parents have to model the behavior. The more active the parents are, the more active the family will be!

Be good to yourself! More next time...

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