Fit Family: Children and Exercise

Mike Levinson, fitness expert

Mike Levinson, fitness expert

Physical inactivity is a major risk factor for many diseases. It also increases the risk of stroke and such other major cardiovascular risk factors as obesity and diabetes. The American Heart Association recommends that children and adolescents do at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day. Increased physical activity has been linked to increased life expectancy and decreased risk of cardiovascular disease. Physical activity produces overall physical and mental benefits. Inactive children are likely to become inactive adults and physical activity helps with:

  • control weight
  • reducing blood pressure
  • raising HDL (“good”) cholesterol
  • reducing the risk of diabetes and some kinds of cancer
  • improved self-confidence and higher self-esteem

How do I promote physical activity in my child?

  • Physical activity should be increased by reducing sedentary time (e.g., watching television, playing computer video games or talking on the phone).
  • Physical activity should be fun for children.
  • Parents should try to be role models for active lifestyles and provide children with opportunities for increased physical activity. 

All children, even less-coordinated ones, need to be physically active.  Activity may be particularly helpful for the physical and psychological well-being of children with a weight problem as well. 

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