How Much Exercise Do Kids Need?

You may be surprised by the answer!

Want your child to stay fit or trim down?

Join the local YMCA or other local gym. You even can make it family time.

Patch recently spoke with the YMCA to get some tips on how kids can stay healthy.

Patch: How much exercise should youngsters get?

YMCA: Getting 45 to 60 minutes of activity on as many days as possible, even if it is broken up into 15-minute segments, is an important goal.

Patch: At what age is it considered safe for children to begin lifting weights?

YMCA: The American Academy of Pediatrics position on strength training supports the implementation of strength and resistance training programs, even for prepubescent children, that are monitored by well-trained adults and take into account the child’s maturation level. The only limitation the AAP suggests is to avoid repetitive maximal lifts (lifts that are one repetition maximum lifts or are within 2-3 repetitions of a one repetition maximum lift) until they have reached Tanner Stage 5 of developmental maturity. Tanner Stage 5 is the level in which visible secondary sex characteristics have been developed.

We encourage children to do speed, agility and quickness drills rather than pure strength training.  Body weight exercises and functional exercises (cable controlled) are encouraged until children are mature enough to lift weights.  We do not allow children in the free weight area until they are 16 years old.

Patch: How can parents motivate children to exercise when video games and TV are so often preferred as leisurely activities?

YMCA: The best and most important role models children have are their parents, especially their mothers. It is extremely important for parents to be role models and encourage their children to eat well and be physically active.  Family activities are great ways to spend time together bonding through communication, exploration and exertion.

Patch: Why is it important for people to develop healthy lifestyles at an early age?

YMCA: Your body develops over time.  How you live as a young person builds your foundation for the rest of your life.  This is true both physically and emotionally.  If children grow in a healthy environment appreciative of activity and good nutrition, they will carry those lessons into adulthood.

Statistically we know that children who have obese parents have a 70% chance of being obese adults themselves.

Although our bodies are very resilient and can repair most of the damage we do to ourselves, there are certainly points of no return when the damage leads to debilitating life changes.

Patch: The YMCA installed healthier vending machines last year. Is proper nutrition something the YMCA tries to teach to its members?

YMCA: The Tampa YMCA believes that active living and healthy eating combined with constant education and support are critical elements of a healthy lifestyle.  Nutrition education and healthy options are part of our continuous goal of achieving these parameters.

Reducing the options of “unhealthy choices” is part of educating people and allowing better decision making processes to be the easy choice.

We are focusing on the Nemours hospital program: 5, 2, 1 almost none which gives a simple guiding mantra to all of us:

  • 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day
  • 2 hours or less of “inactive” screen time every day
  • 1 hour of physical activity every day
  • Almost no sugary beverages daily

Patch: Any other general kids' exercise and health tips?

YMCA: Here is a list:

  • Be the role model.
  • Make it fun.
  • Play often.
  • Allow the children to create the games.
  • Honestly and openly listen to your child.
  • If you have to, schedule your play time.
  • It’s all about moderation, not deprivation.
  • It is a lifestyle, not a diet.


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