Get Movin’

Get Movin’

The Best Types of Physical Activity for School-Aged Children and Adolescents

If you follow 5-2-1-0, you know that you and your family should get 1 hour or more of physical activity every day. But, what counts as physical activity for school-aged children and adolescents?

Your child’s 1 hour of physical activity should include activities that make their hearts beat faster, build muscles, and strengthen their bones. Many of these activities fall into a few categories:

  • Moderate-to-vigorous intensity aerobic activity, recommended on all days of the week
  • Muscle- and bone-strengthening activity, recommended on at least 3 days a week

To measure the intensity of your child’s physical activity, try the talk test. If your child is doing moderate-intensity activities, they can talk but not sing during the activity. If your child is doing vigorous-intensity activities, they will not be able to say more than a few words without pausing to catch their breath.

Here are some ideas, thanks to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, based on your child’s age.

School-Aged Children

Moderate-intensity aerobic activities
Vigorous-intensity aerobic activities
  • Running
  • Bicycle riding on hills
  • Active games involving running or chasing—tag or flag football, etc.
  • Jumping rope
  • Cross-country skiing
  • Martial arts
  • Sports including soccer, basketball, tennis, or swimming
  • Vigorous dancing
Muscle-strengthening activities
  • Games such as tug of war
  • Resistance exercises using bodyweight or resistance bands
  • Rope or tree climbing
  • Climbing on playground equipment
  • Some forms of yoga
Bone-strengthening activities
  • Hopping, skipping, or jumping
  • Jumping rope
  • Running
  • Sports involving jumping or rapid changes in direction

 

Adolescents

Moderate-intensity aerobic activities
  • Brisk walking
  • Bicycle riding on flat surfaces
  • Active recreation—hiking, kayaking, swimming, etc.
  • House and yard work—sweeping or pushing a lawnmower, etc.
  • Playing games requiring catching or throwing—baseball, softball, football, etc.
Vigorous-intensity aerobic activities
  • Running
  • Bicycle riding on hills
  • Active games involving running or chasing—tag or flag football, etc.
  • Jumping rope
  • Cross-country skiing
  • Martial arts
  • Sports including soccer, basketball, tennis, or swimming
  • Vigorous dancing
Muscle-strengthening activities
  • Games such as tug of war
  • Resistance exercises using bodyweight, resistance bands, weight machines, hand-held weights, etc.
  • Rock climbing or rock wall climbing
  • Some forms of yoga
Bone-strengthening activities
  • Jumping rope
  • Running
  • Sports involving jumping or rapid changes in direction

Looking for ideas for daily, quick, and fun physical activities for your children? Check out our Resources page for inspiration.

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