IT’S CLEAR: Children, teens and adults who are physically active have healthier bodies and minds than people who aren’t. Regular physical activity keeps your heart healthy and strong and it helps you build healthy muscles, bones and joints.Physical activity can also raise your self-esteem, improve your mood, help you sleep better and give you more energy. Making physical activity a part of your everyday life is also a good way to help achieve and maintain a healthy body weight. It’s important to be physically active every day.
Physical activity should be as important to your daily routine as brushing your teeth, bathing and getting enough sleep.
How much physical activity should I be getting to stay healthy?The American Heart Association recommends that children and adolescents get at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic activity every day. Examples of moderate activity include bike riding, swimming and brisk walking. Vigorous activities include jogging, soccer, aerobics or dancing. If your workout makes you breathe harder and sweat, you’re helping your heart stay healthy.
FACT: Less than 30% of high school students get enough physical activity each day to keep their hearts healthy.
How can I make physical activity part of my daily routine?There are many ways to get more physical activity. The hard part is making the decision to get off the couch and be active. You don’t have to exercise until you’re exhausted. Just get your body up and get moving. Tell yourself that getting moving is something you need to do each day and decide what you want to do today!
Here are some ideas:
- Try brisk walking, dancing and biking for some fun physical activity.
- Go outside and play instead of watching TV or sitting down and playing games on the computer.
- When you play video games, play games that require you to get up and move, like those that involve dancing, exercise and sports.
- If you have time while you’re doing other things, take physical activity breaks. Try short, brisk walks for at least 10 minutes at a time.
- After dinner, take your friend or your dog (or both!) along for a brisk walk around the neighborhood.
- Make it a family affair. Take walks after dinner, go for bike rides or hikes on the weekend with your parents and siblings.
- Get involved with school activities or other activities that include physical activity.
- Ride your bike or walk briskly to school or wherever you need to go.
- Plan a family field day that includes some of your favorite outdoor games like hiking, biking or swimming.
- Check out your local community center for opportunities to join sports clubs and other recreational activities.
- Start a new hobby like karate, yoga, boxing, running, fencing, basketball or whatever gets you moving. You’ll meet new people and get healthier at the same time.
- Join a sports team at school or in the neighborhood.
- Instead of just standing around on the playground, run!
Tracking your physical activity.Keep track of your physical activity to help stick to your goals. Use this worksheet from the American Heart Association to write down the activities you participate in every day.
If you prefer to use an electronic tool on a computer or an application that lets you record the type and amount of time that you are physically active, sign up for Heart360 with a parent’s help. It’s important to figure out what works for you so you can stick to it!
How much physical activity am I getting?To estimate how much physical activity you get each day, write down or log online how long you participate in any physical activities that make you breathe hard or sweat. Then add up the total minutes of physical activity during those seven days and record it. Does it total at least 60 minutes each day? Great job! If you’re not getting 60 minutes each day, use the following questions to help you think of ideas to get more activity in your life.
- What are a few of your favorite ways to get active?
- What are two new things you can try to get active?
- What’s one important reason you should strive to be heart healthy?
- Dietary Recommendations for Healthy Children
- The AHA's Recommendations for Physical Activity in Children
Last reviewed 8/2014