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Nutrition and Exercise

The importance of regular exercise is evident in studies of active children. These children are better able to handle life's stresses, have improved body image, a reduction in body fat, stronger bones and muscles, and a decreased risk of obesity related illnesses. Exercise is an important tool in the fight against a growing obesity epidemic and the initiation of an active lifestyle in childhood is the key to lifelong healthy habits.

Types of Exercise

Children do not necessarily need a structured exercise regimen. The main goal in picking the type of exercise should focus on whether the child is enjoying the activity and whether the child is exerting a moderate to vigorous intensity. Children's exercise should feel more like a game than a daily chore. Examples of exercise activities are jumping rope, playing ball, bicycling, or a simple game of tag.

Exercise Duration

Playing video games for an hour and exercising for ten minutes does not constitute a beneficial exercise program. Children should exercise at least 60 minutes per day. While fitting in an hour of exercise for children may be a daunting task, it is important to remember that this time can be split into several exercise sessions. Including all family into this exercise time will ensure parents and kids alike receive the benefits of cardiovascular exercise.


The benefits of exercise are undoubtedly the best gift you can give your child to equip them with the tools for success. Exercise will control weight, improve body image and result in higher self confidence. The physiologic effects of exercise in children will guarantee your child has stronger bones and muscles along with lower cholesterol and blood pressure. A childhood without exercise can lead to obesity, poor self image, and an increased risk for disease. Unhealthy eating and exercise habits lead to over 300,000 deaths each year.

Encouraging Exercise

Making a chore out of exercise is a sure way to discourage your child from becoming or staying active. Make an effort to create fun spaces indoors and outdoors to encourage activity. Consider how much money is spent on video game consoles and compare that to how much is devoted to exercise areas or sports. Which activity will benefit your child most? Also, do not require children to have adult exercise goals as these types of activities can be intimidating and in some cases harmful to a child's developing body. Try to set aside at least one day a week where the family does fun fitness activities together.


Always check with the child's physician before embarking on any significant exercise program. If your child suffers from conditions that require controlled exercise environments, such as asthma, heart conditions, or disability, be sure to maintain guidelines set by a health care provider to avoid any negative outcomes. Also, check children's play areas for safety. Stop any activity that causes shortness of breath, chest pain, joint discomfort, or muscle pain and report symptoms to a doctor immediately.

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