Exercise for Kids


Physical Activity

The American Heart Association says that all children and adolescents should have:

  • 1 hour or more of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day
  • No more than 1-2 hours of screen time daily. This includes TV, computer, video games,and texting/talking on phone

These activities stop you from being physically active. Try watching while you exercise. Parents should follow these same guidelines. Be a model of healthy behavior for your kids.

During physical activity, DO:

  • Drink plenty of water
  • Measure intensity with the “talk test” (see bottom of page)
  • Schedule exercise into your daily routine
  • Wear comfortable, loose fitting, or stretchy clothes when you work out
  • Wear supportive tennis shoes
  • Involve the whole family and/or friends
  • Try a variety of exercises. Keep it interesting and exciting. Try a new activity each week.
  • Warm up before vigorous activity, and stretch after.
  • Break physical activity up into 20 minute sessions or 15 minute increments throughout the day. Just make sure your total is 60 minutes.

During physical activity, DON’T:

  • Wear restrictive clothes
  • Try to do too much at first. It takes practice and a little time to build up endurance.
  • Get frustrated if you miss a day. Just start back up the next day.
  • Think of exercise as something negative. Exercise is anything that gets you moving,
  • increases heart rate, and makes you sweat. 

Talk Test

To measure if you are exercising at the right pace, use the talk test. You should be able to talk, but not sing, while exercising.

In other words, you should be able to carry on light conversation with a friend without gasping for air while exercising. You should not be able to sing, since that takes more air support.

Suggested Exercises

  • Find a park trail, running track, or just hit the sidewalk to walk around the neighborhood with friends, family, and/or your pets. Try to walk at a speed that is challenging, but remember the talk test.
  • Have a scavenger hunt.
  • Take a bike ride around the neighborhood, park, or lake.
  • Walk to the corner store or the library if you need something instead of driving. Don’t forget that you can always take a bike on short distance errands too.
  • Go to the library and check out their exercise DVDs in the health section. If you find some that you really like you can always buy them later.
  • Check out exercise classes, dance, sports and other after school activities at your local recreation centers and YMCAs.
  • Go to a local park or school and play on the playground. Rock walls and monkey bars are great for building upper body strength.
  • Find a nearby basketball or volleyball court at a local park or school and play a game with family and/or friends.
  • Take a soccer ball outside in the yard or to a nearby park and play a game with family and/or friends.
  • Start a dog walking service for your neighbors. Every dog loves to be walked.

Exercise and Injury Prevention Tips

  • Always wear a properly fitting helmet while riding a bike or scooter, rollerblading, skating, skateboarding. Also wear extra protection including elbow and knee pads in case of falls.
  • Parents should inspect bike and scooters for any loose parts that may impair safety.
  • Children should be supervised while riding bikes and scooters until they show they are responsible enough and independent with safety.
  • Follow traffic laws and use hand signals for turns when on a bike. Wear bright or reflective clothes and always wear tennis shoes.
  • Do not text while walking, running, biking, skating, or other exercise activities. This prevents awareness of your environment. It has led to an increase in traumatic injuries.
  • Always stay well hydrated. Have water available especially in the summer months.
  • Dress for the season. Wear loose fitting cool clothing in the summer. Use plenty of sunscreen. Bundle up in the winter with warm clothes and layers. With layers you can always peel something off once the body becomes warm or add a layer during cool down.
  • Don’t use weather as an excuse to not exercise.
  • Always wear supportive tennis shoes rather than flip flops, boots, flats, or slip on shoes.
  • Use the talk test. That way you will not overdo it during activities.

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