We all know keeping children active is important, so we put together 38 really important facts and statistics from 12 different sources to help you figure out how long your children should be active throughout the week, what is considered to be “active” and how they will benefit from it!
- 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 moderate or vigorous physical activity (vigorous activity should be included at least three days a week).
- Children 3-4 years of age should spend at least 180 minutes in a variety of types of physical activities at any intensity, of which at least 60 minutes is moderate- to vigorous intensity physical activity, spread throughout the day; more is better.
- Children should also participate in muscle-strengthening and bone-strengthening activities at least three days a week.
- Children now spend more than seven and a half hours a day in front of a screen (e.g., TV, videogames, computer)
- Only one in three children are physically active every day
- incorporating physical activity into your child's daily routine sets the foundation for a lifetime of fitness and good health.
- Other benefits include improved aerobic fitness, muscle strength and endurance in children ages 6 to 17, improved bone health and weight status in children ages 3 to 17, and reduced risk of depression in children ages 6 to 17.
- Children ages 6-13 can also have improved cognitive function, such as thinking and memory skills, with regular physical activity.
- Only 1 in 6 children are active for 60 minutes every day
- Only 1 in 4 are active across the week, but don't do 60 minutes every day
- Children aged 9-12 are the most active every day
- 20% of boys and 14% of girls are active every day - the gap between girls' and boys' activity levels widens from the end of primary school
- Physically active kids also are more likely to be motivated, focused, and successful in school. And mastering physical skills builds confidence at every age.
- Active kids are more likely to:
- have up to 40% higher test scores
- 15% more likely to go to college
- Have 7-8% higher annual earnings
- Have lower health costs
- Be more productive at work
- Have reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes
- Insufficient physical activity is a key risk factor for noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer and diabetes
- More than 80% of the world's adolescent population is insufficiently physically active
- Parents of preschool age children (3-5) should aim for about 3 hours per day of a variety of activities (light, moderate and vigorous)
- School age kids and teens (6-17) should aim for at least 60 minutes a day of moderate- to vigorous-intensity activity
- Not getting enough physical activity can lead to:
- energy imbalance (e.g., expend less energy through physical activity than consumed through diet) and can increase the risk of becoming overweight or obese
- higher risk of cardiovascular disease, including hyperlipidemia (e.g., high cholesterol and triglyceride levels), high blood pressure, obesity, and insulin resistance and glucose intolerance
- higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes
- higher risk of developing breast, colon, endometrial and lung cancer
- low bone density, which can lead to osteoporosis
- Physical Activity Behaviors of Young People
- only 24% of children 6-17 years of age participate in 60 minutes of physical activity every day
- In 2017, only 26.1% of high school students participated in at least 60 minutes per day of physical activity
- In 2017, 51.1% of high school students participated in muscle strengthening exercises (e.g., push-ups, sit-ups, weightlifting) for 3+ days of the week
- In 2017, 51.7% of high school students attended physical education classes in an average week, and only 29.9% of high school students attended physical education classes daily.
- Daily physical activity can include free play, games, sports, walking, cycling
- Vigorous-intensity activities make children sweat and feel “out of breath,” so that they can only speak a few words between breaths. These can include activities like running and swimming fast or for a long time.
- Moderate-intensity activities also make children sweat more and breathe a little harder but they can still talk while they move their bodies such as fast walking or a bike ride.
- Activities that strengthen muscles and bones can include jumping rope and running, or sports like tennis and basketball.
- Encourage your child or teen to be active every day, by walking or cycling to a friend’s house, skipping rope, or playing in the backyard or nearby park.
- An estimated 6.4 million children between the ages of 4 and 17 have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Studies have shown that green outdoor settings appear to reduce ADHD symptoms in children, which includes the exposure they get to natural settings like parks and beaches through weekend and after-school activities.
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