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All Work And No Exercise Make Jack A Dull Boy: But How Long Should A Kid Exercise Each Day?

by Backyard Play Store on September 23, 2021
All Work And No Exercise Make Jack A Dull Boy: But How Long Should A Kid Exercise Each Day?

The proverb is well known to all, but the question remains as to how long should a kid exercise each day. Quantifying the amount of exercise vs work for kids has also to be given thought.

Catch them young:

It is a given that exercise is a must for people of all age groups. It is surmised that fitness becomes a goal with advancing age. Contrary to this thought, a fitness regime should be inculcated right from childhood such that in adulthood and beyond it becomes a matter of routine. A child needs to be edged towards leading an active life from its infancy. How long should a kid exercise each day depends on age and other prevailing requirements.

Being active has numerous health benefits

As a child, there is a tendency to being overfed by the mothers and grandmothers resulting in weight issues. Hence the need to burn those calories through exercise is paramount.

It is surprising to learn but heart health needs to be catered to from early on. An active child will show fewer risks of heart diseases as an adult.

Exercise helps build lean muscle mass instead of fat deposits. This in turn leads to healthier bones and muscles throughout the body.

No play definitely makes Jack a dull boy. The telltale signs of stress and depression are seen in kids who forever remain indoors and are generally sedentary.

Exercise definitely improves the brain functioning of a child. Their attention span improves and he learns to be goal-oriented.

It reduces fatigue as an active child sleeps well. And a well-rested child is always full of energy. So this kind of becomes a cyclic process.

Just like an apple keeps the doctor away, so does exercise and play keep the child away from medicines and clinic visits. They are less prone to seasonal infections as their immunity improves with exercise. With strong bones, supple joints, and muscles, he becomes less prone to injuries. So how long should a kid exercise each day and when can be chalked out by adults.

Is there an age-wise schedule on how long should a kid exercise each day that can be followed?

Is there an age-wise schedule on how long should a kid exercise each day that can be followed

Though there are no hard and fast rules about play and exercise in kids, yet there are few guidelines that might help in deciding how much and when to prod kids to exercise.

Infants (below 1 year):

Crawling, reaching grasping, pulling, pushing: the toddlers are pre-conditioned to be active throughout the waking hours. Adults should restrain themselves from intervening due to sheer anxiety that they may hurt themselves. Instead, clear up space for their movement and keep a watchful eye. Rest they know how much exercise they need and will fall asleep when they are tired.

Toddlers (1 year-2 year):

These need at least three hours of activities in a day. Some they indulge in all by themselves like jumping, running, playing on the swing, and hopping. Adults can help them by taking them outdoors introducing them to chasing games, playtime in the swimming pool, climbing frames, and the like.

Pre-school kids (3-4 years):

Mother might be in a hurry to get back to work after the sabbatical. But this is when the kid needs you the most. They are yet not on their own. Desist from the tendency to switch on the TV to keep them busy or giving them the mobile to play games, or strapping them to the car seat as you finish all your duties. Rather take him outdoors, play throwing, catching hide and seek with him. Teach him to ride a bike, play with blocks as it exercises the brain. Swimming, climbing, skipping, jumping on the trampoline all are suited for the preschooler.

School going kids: (5-16 years)

This is the age to go all out with exercise and play: These are habit-forming years and once they get into a sport, they will stick to it for a lifetime. Much to their advantage. Aerobic activities are the best like running longer distances, playing in bounce houses, swimming, dancing. Aerobic activities involve all the larger muscle groups and help in fat burning and core strengthening 60-minute regimen every day is good for them. Fun activities like hiking, skating, rock climbing can be introduced at this time. Even house chores like cleaning up after dinner might help in inculcating discipline.

School going kids: (5-16 years)

The UK Govt infographics is a ready reckoner for aspiring parents to work out a schedule for making their kids healthy and active. Following these guidelines might help in scheduling how long should a kid exercise each day.

What about the types of exercise?

It can be summarized that kids on average need at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week, at least 2 days a week strength training exercise, and interspersed balancing activities.

By moderate-intensity activity, it is meant that any activity that makes the heart beat faster and the breathing harder than while the child is sitting or resting.

Walking to school or walking the dog skateboarding, rollerblading, playing in bounce houses with slides, cycling leisurely, and jumping on a super bouncy trampoline all come under moderate-intensity activity.

By strength training, it is meant that resistance exercises or activities that strengthen bones muscles and activate the joints.

Swimming, gymnastics, dance, tennis, climbing skipping, football, rugby all come under strengthening activities.

Balancing activities are like yoga, ballet, and also certain martial art forms. Yet again, quantifying is important whichever form of exercise is introduced and how long should a kid exercise each day should be monitored closely.

The malady of a sedentary lifestyle:

A bigtime after effect of the covid pandemic has been the way the screen time of kids has increased. Though at that point in time, it was the only way to keep their education going, kids must get weaned away from the sedentary lifestyle they unknowingly adopted.

A low cognitive level is one of the most notorious aftereffects of being sedentary. how long should a kid exercise each day have actual bearings on their intellectual growth.

Lower motor development, less eye-hand coordination are noticed in younger children. Fat accumulation in the body increases putting the cardiovascular system at high risk. Prolonged screen time and couch time lead to developmental issues in young adults. Hormones go haywire and there is a typical case of low self-esteem linked to a sedentary lifestyle. The child ends up burning fewer calories than he consumes and often even the inbuilt strength and endurance takes a hit.  There is early onset of High Blood Pressure, Metabolic distress, type 2 diabetes, and even osteoporosis and certain cancers.

Role of parents and caregivers:

Role of parents and caregivers

Parents and caregivers have a great role to play in inculcating a healthy lifestyle in their wards. Needless to say, an example works better than precept. They should lead by example. By reducing their own screen time and investing that time in some kind of physical activity they are sending across a message to the children who see and learn from. By setting fitness goals for themselves they teach the same concept to the young ones. By talking about fitness and discussing the issues at hand if one leads a sedentary lifestyle, they are educating the kids and helping them make good life decisions. Be a role model to your child. Keep in mind the strictures and keep a tab on how long should a kid exercise each day. Keep the activities fun so that the kids want more of it every day. As a family, opts for outdoors fun family time instead of malls and restaurants. The onus is on you to raise a fit kid that will in turn lead to a fitter nation.

Government directives:

The government is doing its bit in spreading the message of a fit child population. According to Guidelines from the Health and Human Services, children and young adults aged six years and older should get at least an hour of moderate or vigorous aerobic activity every day. They can ride a bike or run at least thrice a week. Similarly, they need to indulge in muscle training at least three times a week and bone-strengthening activities like skipping rope or long-distance running three times a week.

Organized sports can be a great way to stay fit. These include basketball, baseball soccer, dancing to music anything that keeps you moving and grooving your way to health.

Gardening is also considered an activity that keeps the mind and body active. Then there are brain-stimulating exercises. When it’s raining and the weather is inclement then too blocks, puzzles, cubes can keep you away from the screen.

A word of caution:

Given all the positives of being on your toes and inculcating the same habits in your kids, we also need to exercise caution at each step. Kids are prone to carelessness and that’s when adult supervision comes in handy.

  • Check for faulty playground equipment before letting the child use it. Many injuries are reported due to this oversight on part of adults.
  • Make sure your child also understands the need to keep himself and his playmates safe.
  • The child should also be restrained from injury-causing activities like pushing and being unnecessarily violent.
  • Making them wear comfortable clothes and injury safe also is necessary.
  • Swings, see-saws, slides all these activities are to be done only under adult supervision.
  • Even the exercise time should be monitored. While unstructured play is okay for long hours, specific training activities should be performed only for a limited time else it leads to burnout.

The final word is that the overall well-being of a child is in healthy eating, adequate exercise and a well-informed adult caregiver can always guide the child well. They can decide how long should a kid exercise each day and what type is just right for the child and rear a healthy child with a great temperament.


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