Physical Activity Guidelines for School-Aged Children

School-aged children and adolescents should get at total of 1 hour or more of physical activity daily. This 1 hour should include moderate- and vigorous- intensity aerobic activity, as well as muscle strengthening and bone strengthening activities. You may notice some overlapping of activities in the three categories. That just means that one activity, such as running, has many benefits.

  • Aerobic- Aerobic activities involve large muscle groups and can be classified as moderate or vigorous in terms of intensity. Make sure your child participates in vigorous activity at least 3 days per week. Vigorous activities increase the heart rate and rate of breathing, so that your child cannot carry on a conversation while doing the activity. This is referred to as the "talk test" and is a good gauge to determine intensity.
    • A few examples of aerobic activities are walking, running, swimming, dancing, jumping rope, and bicycling.
  • Muscle Strengthening- These activities strengthen muscles by using them in ways that are not a part of daily life and should be done 2-3 days each week.
    • Examples of muscle strengthening activities include push-ups, sit-ups, using playground equipment, and performing exercises with resistance bands.
  • Bone Strengthening- These activities stimulate healthy bone growth and also bone strength through impact, and should typically be performed 3 days per week. These activities apply some force to the bones, which helps to strengthen them.
    • Examples of bone strengthening activities are jumping rope, running, playing tennis, and playing hopscotch.

Aim for 1 hour or more each day! There are additional health benefits when children and adolescents are active for more than 1 hour per day. If your child or adolescent is currently not active, start with quick and do-able physical activities, such as a short 15 minute walk, and then gradually increase both the amount of time and the intensity. If your child or adolescent already is active for 1 hour each day, gradually increase that amount of time, as well.