We don’t have to tell you, fit kids are happy kids. After an active weekend—soccer in the morning with lunch at the playground then more running around and a pool party—your kids come home dirty, tired and happy!
But work and school rarely allow for all that fun, making daily fitness goals harder to nail. If that’s stressing you out, here’s what the experts say about how active your child should be at every age, with suggestions for how to fit it all in.
Family Fitness Guidelines for Kids, by Every Age Bracket:
Babies: Babies are born to move! So no need to worry about getting them enough exercise. All they need is encouragement and plenty of tummy time to strengthen neck muscles and safe toys they can grasp to build motor skills. Once it’s time to scoot or crawl, it’s all about baby-proofing so they’ve got a long, safe runway.
Toddlers: For kids 2–5 years old, the magic number is 3—or 180 minutes. The good news is that’s throughout the day and a combo of active—cycling, climbing, playing tag, running—and light activity like dancing, walking and somersaults gets you there!
Young Children: Kids 5-17 need a 60 minute mix of light exercises like dog-walking, skating or playing in the park plus breaking a sweat playing soccer, football or rugby, doing gymnastics, dancing or martial arts.
How to hit these goals? Enrolling your kids in classes and sports leagues when they’re young helps them discover what they’re good at—and more important—like to do. Is Jimmy or Sally getting sick on soccer Saturdays? Then bail on soccer and try something else.
Recommended Family Fitness Guidelines
So, while these are the recommended guidelines for strengthening bones and muscles, remember life—extra homework, flu season—happens. So, don’t fret. Giving overscheduled kids a rest never hurts. And when the weather keeps you inside, get out the yoga mats and downward-dog. Kids love challenges. More than that, they love spending time—and doing things—with you!