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How much exercise do kids need?


children running in a field, at playUpstate‘s weekly radio show/podcast, “HealthLink on Air,” spoke recently with pediatrician Travis Hobart, MD, about exercise for kids. He says government guidelines prescribe an hour a day of moderate to vigorous activity for most kids from age 6 into the teens.

The types to include:

* Aerobic

Examples: walking, running, bike riding

As they reach school age, youngsters may become involved in activities (gymnastics, soccer, karate) that raise their heart rate and are structured for kids at various developmental stages.

* Muscle strengthening

Examples: climbing, playing on playground equipment

Weightlifting is OK starting around age 12 or 13 for those who want to build muscle with low weight and high repetition.

* Bone strengthening

Examples: hopscotch, running, jumping, basketball

Travis Hobart, MD

Travis Hobart, MD

Exercises that involve impact with the ground help strengthen bones. By our teens or early 20s, our bones reach peak bone density.

Parents, keep in mind, school-age kids in New York get some physical education during school – 120 minutes per week for elementary schoolchildren, and 90 minutes per week for grades seven to 12.

Depending on the school, kids may or may not get any unstructured play, since some schools have done away with recess. Hobart says “for young kids, part of their developmental process is learning how to play with other kids, learning what rules mean and making their own rules, not necessarily rules imposed on them by adults.”

In other words, kids also need time to be kids – and that can count toward their daily exercise.

spring 2017 issue of Upstate Health magazineHLOA logoThis article appears in the spring 2017 issue of Upstate Health magazine. Hear the radio interview/podcast in which Hobart explains how much exercise children need.