How much exercise a day do children need?

Answers from Edward R. Laskowski, M.D.

Guidelines from the Department of Health and Human Services say that children and adolescents age 6 and older need at least an hour a day of physical activity. Most of the hour should be either moderate or vigorous aerobic activity. In addition, children should participate in muscle-strengthening and bone-strengthening activities at least three days a week.

Many common school-age activities — such as playing on playground equipment and jumping rope — cover all the bases at once. Organized sports such as baseball or soccer are a great way to stay fit too. But team sports or dance classes aren't the only options.

Get creative as you search for activities your child enjoys. If your child is artistically inclined, consider a nature hike to collect leaves and rocks for use in a collage. If your child likes to climb, head for the nearest jungle gym or climbing wall. If your child loves reading, walk or bike to a local library for a book. Or simply turn on your child's favorite music and dance in the living room.

Exercise with your child to better your own health while helping your child develop sound exercise habits. You are a role model as a parent, and your child is more likely to be physically active if you make physical activity a family priority.

Remember, incorporating physical activity into your child's daily routine sets the foundation for a lifetime of fitness and good health.

April 06, 2016