Symmetry Blog

Physical Activity in Children

Symmetry Physio - Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Is your child getting enough physical activity? Do you know how much screen time is too much?


Physical Activity in Children - How much time should my child spend exercising?

In the last decade, physical activity levels in school aged children have been declining significantly, and the hours spent doing sedentary activities such as computer games and screens has increased exponentially. Encouraging children of all ages to be less sedentary and more physically active is more than just preventing obesity. Regular physical activity helps children reach important growth and development milestones by improving gross and fine motor skills, coordination, social skills through team work and promotes overall well-being. Exercise also helps promote healthy muscles and bone development 

All children should be encouraged and exposed to a variety of physical activities. Children should not be restricted from physical activity regardless of disability or injury. Below are the physical activity recommendations for children of different ages.

  • Children aged 0-5 years should move and play every day for 3 hours spread throughout the day. Screen time should be less than 1 hour per day and is not recommended for children under 2 years.
  • Children aged 5-12 years should be moderately-vigorously active for a minimum of 60 minutes every day, ideally for several hours each day. Three days a week should include activities that strengthen muscles and bones. Screen time should be less than 2 hours per day.
  • Adolescents aged 13-17 should in a minimum of 60 minutes of physical activity every day. This should include some vigorous (high intensity) aerobic activity as well as activity to promote muscle and bone strength. Screen time should less than 2 hours and long periods of sitting should be avoided where possible.

Do you think your child is getting enough physical activity? Does your child have an injury or condition that you feel prevents them from accessing adequate amounts of physical activity such as asthma, cerebral palsy, autism or a broken limb? Our Physiotherapist and Exercise Physiologist Emily Cousins list just some of the ideas below on how you can promote physical activity in your children's lives in order to help them develop into their strongest, healthiest and happiest self:

  • Walk, ride or scooter to school one day a week
  • Plan a physical activity for the whole family every weekend - a bike ride, go to the park or go to the beach
  • Instead of going to the movies for a family outing, try a less sedentary activity such as mini golf, indoor sports, trampolining, ice skating or indoor rock climbing
  • Install a basketball/netball hoop at home. Other great activities that can easily be done at home include skipping, handball or hopscotch
  • Engaging younger children in games such as hide and seek, stuck in the mud, What time is it Mr Wolf or even Twister
  • Even some chores can count as physical activity - get the kids to help and join in raking some leaves or washing the car.    
You can read more information about physical activity recommendations in children below. Just remember all children should engage in age appropriate activities and younger children will need adequate supervision. Stay Active and Play Safe!!

The Team at Symmetry Physiotherapy

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