Is my child getting enough exercise?
What is the recommended amount of exercise daily for a school-aged child and how do we fit it into their busy days?
In this fast-paced era of technology, screen time and online learning, it can be difficult to measure if your child is getting the exercise they need in a given day. As education standards rise and budget cuts continue, it is often the physical education classes and extracurricular sports that we lose first.
So, what is the recommended amount of exercise daily for a school-aged child? The World Health Organization, The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology and the Center for Disease Control all agree that school-aged children (ages 5-11 years) should be participating in a minimum of 60 minutes daily of moderate to vigorous exercise daily. It is also recommended that this population of children participate in vigorous activities that promote bone and muscle strengthening, a minimum of 3 days per week. Okay, I understand my child needs exercise but what is the difference between “moderate” and “vigorous”? Moderate exercise, for this age group, is comprised primarily as aerobic activities, such as walking, biking or rollerblading. This type of activity should take up approximately 60-70% of the recommended daily exercise. Vigorous exercise is defined more as the activities that will assist with bone and muscle strengthening such as running, swimming, puddle jumping, climbing large play equipment, and sledding. It is recommended that vigorous activity is performed at least 3 times per week and/or approximately 30-40% of the recommended daily exercise.
I understand this is important but my child’s day is so full, how can we fit everything in? Exercise can be incorporated into a range of daily activities including transportation (walking to and from school or in the community), recreation, household tasks, sports, school-based physical education or through a planned exercise program tailored to your child’s needs. Exercise has been shown to promote healthy development of our musculoskeletal tissues (bones and muscles), cardiovascular system (heart and lungs), and neuromuscular awareness (coordination, balance and movement control). It can also help children maintain a healthy body weight, decrease symptoms of depression and anxiety, and improve learning and social integration. If you have questions or concerns related to your child’s participation in daily exercise, talk to your provider or a pediatric physiotherapist about resources that can help.