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Make Physical Exercise Part of Your Daily Routine
You know that as an adult you have to exercise your body if you want to stay healthy. Children, too, need to exercise to build strong bones and muscles, have a healthy weight, and be alert during the day and sleep well at night. Exercise, though, isn't just jumping jacks and pushups. Any kind of movement that increases your heart rate or strengthens your muscles and your bones is exercise.
How much exercise do children need? The U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services recommend that "all children 2 years and older should get at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise" most days if not every day. To develop endurance, strength, and flexibility, children need to engage in different activities. So, what kinds of body moving activities will help build endurance, strength, and flexibility?
Aerobic activity (the kind that increases the amount of air or oxygen to the muscles) helps build endurance—the ability to sustain the effort needed to "stay in the game" longer. Aerobic activities include walking and running, basketball and soccer, and dancing, skating, and swimming.
Running, riding a bike, and jumping rope are activities that help to build bone.
In order for the muscles and joints to move with ease, children need to stretch. This they do automatically when they try to grab something that is out of reach, when they climb stairs, when they play games with balls or dance, swim, or skate.
Of course, you must move your body, too, and model the kind of active life that you want to become a habit for your child.
Updated on 3/21/2012