Health Library
Exercise and Children

Why is Exercise Important for Children?

footballIn the United States:

  • Seventy-six percent of children don’t do enough daily exercise to be healthy.
  • Only 3.7% of schools have daily gym classes.

Exercise is an important part of keeping children healthy. Teaching healthy habits to children and teens is important for when they grow older. Children who learn to enjoy exercise are more likely to be active adults. Changes in lifestyle are harder to make as a child grows older. The best way to build healthy exercise habits is for the whole family to be active.

Establishing an Exercise and Activity Plan

Making daily exercise is a good way to spend time with family and friends and build heart-healthy habits.

  • Every day, children should do at least 60 minutes of exercise that is age-appropriate, fun and involves a variety of activities.
  • Choose activities that are aerobic and make bones and muscles stronger.
  • Daily exercise doesn’t need to be done all at once. Your child can exercise 5-10 minutes at a time, throughout the day, to add up to 60 minutes.

Aerobic Activity
Improves heart health and fitness

Muscle Strengthening
Strengthen muscles

Bone Strengthening
Promotes bone growth and strength


Playing on playground
Climbing trees
Lifting weights
Resistance bands
Basketball Skipping
Jumping rope

Aerobic exercise is continuous movement that makes your breathing and heart beat get faster. Daily aerobic exercise improves fitness and helps prevent heart disease. Some exercise should be vigorous, where your child plays hard enough to get sweaty or out of breath.

Daily exercise is part of being healthy. However, some children can exercise too much. If your child begins losing too much weight or if exercise interferes with school and other activities, talk with your child's doctor.

Benefits of Regular Exercise and Activity

The following are the benefits of regular exercise:

  • Improves blood flow
  • Helps with healthy weight
  • Improves cholesterol
  • Prevents and lowers high blood pressure
  • Improves energy
  • Improves sleep
  • Releases tension
  • Improves self-image
  • Helps manage stress
  • Helps lower anxiety and depression
  • Increases enthusiasm and optimism
  • Builds strong muscles and bones

Last Updated 07/2019

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