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Exercise Guidelines for Children and Adolescent

Updated on May 30, 2014

Many of us feel guilty for not doing more about the way kids live today. More young people become overweight and out-of-shape adults before they know it and feel helpless about it. Some children consume more than 50 hours a week on television and video games, keeping them away from physically active. Kids also have easier access to high-calorie fast foods and junk food that are rich in harmful fat and cholesterol. The underlying cause of these activities is the lifestyle habits these children adopted, parallel to those of their parents. Emphasis then should not be focused on the weight or appearance, but rather on changing the lifestyle habits that impact on the weight and appearance. In another words, the proper perspective is not to produce a slim child, but to foster healthy lifestyle habits that produce fitness and health for a lifetime. The discussion follows will focus on ways to make physical activity a natural part of a child (and his family’s) life to achieve effective lifestyle change.

Being Outdoors

Undoubtedly, being Outdoors is the basic to increasing childhood physical activity. Maximize the time your child spends outside is clearly the most important thing a parent can do to naturally motivate the kids to exercise. Children are inherently active and the more time they spend outdoors, the more active they will be. This is definitely a better way to encourage the young children to exercise than a formal exercise classes. And it’s free. Take a walk, climb a tree, roller-skating, fly a kite, throw a Frisbee, go bike cycling, play with the sand, walk the dog and so on.

Parental Model

Being active yourself is the best way to teach your child to be physically active. Parents need to think of themselves as part of the solution, not the problem to active lifestyle change. If you want to be an influence on the health and fitness of those you love, take care of yourself. Personal example is the most powerful and compelling influence to your family. “Do what I do” will go farther than “Do what I say”.

Exercise Together

Look for ways that you and your children can be physically active on a daily basis such as performing household chores together, playing a ball game or bicycling. Such activities should be enjoyable and fun. The intensity or duration of this activity is less important than the requirement of increasing body metabolism and establishing a habit of daily activity.

Exercise Guidelines

Depending on how active the child is, here are some guidelines to plan activities.

Activity Pyramid (courtesy of
Activity Pyramid (courtesy of

Inactive Child

For inactive child, increase the activities by referring to the base of the activity pyramid:

Take the stairs together instead of elevator

  • Working together in the garden, wash the car, or help out in any other house chores
  • Park your car far away and walk to your destination together
  • Go shopping together
  • Play outside
  • Walk the dog, bath the dog

Moderately Active Child

If your child is somewhat active, you can help increase the activities by referring to the middle of the pyramid:

  • Find activities he likes such as soccer, martial arts, hiking, basketball etc.
  • Schedule activities into his day and plan some playmates for him
  • Set realistic goals he can stick with

Active Child

If your child is active at least four days a week, use the whole pyramid to:

  • Help him change his routine to avoid boredom
  • Explore new activities

Fitness Goal for adolescent children

For adolescent children, parent should help them to identify and focus on lifetime fitness goal. Help your child to see the importance of exercise and sports. Make certain that he understands fitness is a family priority. Set a fitness goal and map out a plan for the child to work out regularly. The American College of Sports Medicine has counselled that:

  • Fitness is improved if a person exercise more than 3 times a week
  • Fitness is maintained with routine of exercise 3 days a week.
  • Fitness is lost when a person gets exercise less than 3 days a week.

Plan now or there will not be a start

The importance of physical activity in the lifestyle of kids cannot be overemphasized. Active lifestyles are often associated with positive self-image, self-confidence, self-control and reduce the risk of depression. But it won’t come about unless you plan for it. So, take out a piece of paper or a planning calendar and start planning! Remember, fitness and health, not weight loss, is the goal. Healthy lifestyle for kids today is a long term investment to lifetime fitness and health.


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    • Ingenira profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Parents should indeed spend time to teach kids good eating habbit and exercise for health since young. It will be life time benefitial for them.

      Thanks for reading and comment, AKN-London.

    • AKN-London profile image


      8 years ago from UK

      I blame parents as well because they don't spend time with their kids! Thanks for posting a beautiful blog!

    • Ingenira profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      Thanks, BenjaminB.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Overall a good hub.

    • Ingenira profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      Line dancing is a well-loved and enjoyed exercises that keep many going on strong. It is encouraging to see your family is so active and health-conscious.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I like your article. True enough, we are a happy and healthy family. My daughter and I join the line dancing classes, my son and my husband go for jogging and badminton.

      I hope everybody can read your article especially those `lazy` ones, watching series movie or playing machong , they end up having many problems in their health.

    • Ingenira profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      glad to be of some help, CC Tan. :)

    • profile image

      C C Tan 

      9 years ago

      My son after coming back from work will stick to the internet ,before and after dinner, he is overweight and my husband and I have been worried for many years, no matter how we advised him to let go of the internet game.

      Thanks for your amazing article, he must read it and hope he will so his life style will change and become healthy himself as well as his parents.I think we better start doing exercise ourselves .

    • Ingenira profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      Thanks for being the first to comment, LillyGrillzit. :) Families that play together grow healthier together too.

    • LillyGrillzit profile image

      Lori J Latimer 

      9 years ago from Central Oregon

      Very timely, and oh so True. "Families that play together stay together"


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