Children 6-12 years old need 60 minutes (1 hour) or more of physical activity every day. Activity does not have to be all at one time; children should be active throughout the day. Active children:
- Do better in school
- Sleep better at night
- Reach a healthy weight
- Feel better about themselves
- Get along with friends
- Grow strong bones and muscles
- Have more confidence to play sports and take part in gym class
As children get older, they spend more time going to school, hanging out with friends, watching TV, and using the computer. These activities can become more important to a child than physical activity. As parents, we can help children make time for physical activity.
What counts as physical activity?
There are three types of physical activity that are important for children:
Aerobic activities make you sweat and breathe harder. They include:
- Running or walking quickly (power walking)
- House work, like sweeping the floors
- Games like tag, soccer, catch, and basketball
- Riding a bike
- Cheerleading and gymnastics
- Martial arts like karate
Muscle-strengthening activities make your muscles stronger. They include:
- Push-ups and sit-ups
- Games like tug-of-war
- Resistance exercises using body weight or exercise bands
- Cheerleading and gymnastics
Bone-strengthening activities make your bones stronger. They include:
- Hopping and skipping
- Jumping rope
- Sports like basketball, gymnastics, and tennis
Is my child doing enough physical activity?
Children need 60 minutes (1 hour) or more of physical activity every day. Children don't have to do it all at once - they can spread it throughout the day, as long as they're active for at least 10 minutes at a time.
To get the most health benefits from physical activity, children need:
- 60 minutes of aerobic activityevery day that makes them sweat and breathe heavy
- 5 to 10 minutes of muscle-strengthening activity at least 3 days a week
- 5 to 10 minutes of bone-strengthening activity at least 3 days a week
How can I help my child be physically active?
- Choose the right activities for your child's age and abilities
Doing activities that are right for your child's age will keep them from becoming frustrated or bored.
- Give your child plenty of chances to be active
Children need parents to make activity easy by taking them to parks, playgrounds, and other active spots. Find parks in your area.
- Set up a schedule for activity and make it a part of everyday life
Use this daily activity schedule (PDF - 48KB) to help you get started.
- Be a role model
Participate in activities with your child and make sure you are being active on your own. Learn how to be an active parent on our Move More page.
- Keep the focus on fun
When children enjoy an activity, they want to continue doing it.
- Practice a skill
Practicing a skill, whether it's scoring a goal or learning to ride a bike, can make kids want to continue the activity.
- Don't be a couch potato
Unless your child is sleeping or resting, help your child stay active throughout the day. Limit your child's time spent watching TV and playing video or computer games to 2 hours a day. (Reading books is okay!)
How do I keep my child safe during physical activity?
Keep an eye on your child
School-age children are still learning how to stay safe. That means they still need a parent or trusted adult to help keep them safe. Younger children need to be watched any time they are doing physical activity.
What if my child has a physical disability?
It is important for children of all abilities to be active every day. Check with your doctor for advice and visit the National Center for Physical Activity and Disability's Program Directory for more information.
This information is provided by the Department of Public Health.