Exercise 101

Daily Exercise Guide

Getting Started Activities

Tips to be Fit

Exercise Planner


Daily Exercise Guide

Toddlers should accumulate at least 30 minutes daily of structured physical activity (organized by an adult) and at least 60 minutes and up to several hours per day of unstructured physical activity (free play).

Preschoolers should engage in 60 minutes of structured physical activity (organized by an adult) and at least 60 minutes and up to several hours of daily, unstructured physical activity (free play).

For more detailed information go to: Raising a Fit Preschooler by the Nemours Foundation

Children and adolescents ages 6-17 should get 60 minutes or more of physical activity a day. This activity should be of moderate or vigorous intensity (vigorous for at least 3 of days per week). In addition, on at least 3 days, the activity should include muscle and bone strengthening.

Moderate–intensity aerobic • Active recreation, such as hiking, skateboarding, rollerblading
• Bicycle riding
• Brisk walking
Vigorous–intensity aerobic • Active games involving running and chasing, such as tag
• Bicycle riding
• Jumping rope
• Martial arts, such as karate
• Running
• Sports such as soccer, ice or field hockey, basketball, swimming, tennis
• Cross-country skiing• Active games involving running and chasing, such as tag
• Bicycle riding
• Jumping rope
• Martial arts, such as karate
• Running
• Sports such as soccer, ice or field hockey, basketball, swimming, tennis
• Cross-country skiing
Muscle-strengthening • Games such as tug-of-war
• Modified push-ups (with knees on the floor)
• Resistance exercises using body weight or resistance bands
• Rope or tree climbing
• Sit-ups (curl-ups or crunches)
• Swinging on playground equipment/bars
Bone-strengthening • Games such as hopscotch
• Hopping, skipping, jumping
• Jumping rope
• Running
• Sports such as gymnastics, basketball, volleyball, tennis
Source: DHHS Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans Chapter 3

An Average Day:
If your child is lucky, he or she will have recess every day during the school day and gym several times a week. If not, you may want to work with your school to improve its physical activity curriculum. The following is an example of what an average day at school should look like to promote health.


If your child lives close to school, you can have them walk if it is safe or create a “walking school bus” whereby you pair up with other neighborhood families and one parent walks a group of children to school.


After school lets out is the time that you want to focus on encouraging your child to be active. They have been sitting inside engaging in mental activities all day. If you let them run and play for an hour after school, they will be better able to focus on their homework because they will have used up some of that pent-up energy. If your child has to remain in a supervised situation after school, try to find one that is based on a physical activity such as basketball, running, dance, karate, etc.

8 am Wake up and get dressed
8:30 Eat Breakfast
8:45 Walk to school or take the bus
9-12:00 Schoolwork
12:00 Eat lunch
12:30-1:00 Recess
1:30-3:30 Schoolwork
4:00-5:00 Play outside in an organized sport, or engage in some type of inside activity like Wii Fit
5:00-6:00 Homework
6:00 Dinner
7:00 Family fun time: Go for a walk or bike ride; throw a baseball.
8:00pm or so Bedtime.

Getting enough sleep is essential for short and long term health as well as cognitive development in children. Don’t rely on your child to say that he or she is ready for bed.

When children get over-tired they have a harder time getting to sleep and tend to wake up more during the night. Set a bedtime and a routine for a healthier and happier child.

Remember, sleep is essential for everyone; many adults are sleep deprived and this can effect concentration, mood, health and an increase in caloric intake. People tend to eat more as a way to boost their energy that is low due to a lack of sleep.

Age Nighttime Sleep Requirement
3-11 months 9-12 hours plus additional naps
1-3 years 12-14 hours
3-5 years 11-13 hours
5-12 years 10-11 hours
Adolescents 8 1⁄2 - 9 1⁄4 hours
Adults 7-9 hours
Source: National Sleep Foundation

The weekends are a great time to be active. Children learn best and are more likely to adopt behaviors that they see their parents and caregivers doing. Try and engage in at least one family activity, such as a bike ride, hike, walk, or swim, and encourage your child to play outside or take part in a sport.

Screen Time
The amount of time that your child spends sitting around playing video games on the computer or a hand-held device and watching television affects their overall health. In fact, it has been shown to contribute to obesity maybe even more than not exercising.

It is easy to rely on television or a computer game now and again, when laundry needs to get done or you need to make a quick call, but what ends up happening is that these brief periods become longer and they add up to a point where many kids spend three to fourhours zoned out in front of a computer screen.

Health experts recommend that you limit the amount of screen time to less than two hours per day for your child and that includes TV, computer (not including homework), videogames, and hand-held devices. The more time they are sedentary, the less time they are exercising and the more they are eating. It all goes hand in hand.

If you have little ones, toddlers and preschoolers, the experts recommend that unless they are sleeping, 60 minutes is the maximum amount of time to be sedentary during any one period.

Small children are always on the run and getting into everything, which is why the TV has become a babysitter for many of us. Try and baby- proof certain areas of your home where you can keep an eye on them without turning on the television. Children need to move, play and investigate to learn all about the world around them.

It does take effort on your part but the rewards are well worth it. Benefits include preventing obesity, decreasing body fat, and limiting their exposure to inappropriate material like violence and advertisements pushing junk food.

If you took the average amount of time children spend watching TV, by the time they get to first grade they will have watched an equivalent of three school years in television, with 40,000 advertisements a year - half of those for food. Of those for food, 98% will be for unhealthy food.

By the time they reach 18, they will have watched 200,000 commercials. Imagine the impact of all that advertising and what would happen if they saw an equal amount for healthyfoods like fruits and vegetables!

  Dr. Deb's Bottom Line


All children age 2 years and older should get at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise on most, preferably all, days of the week.







Instead of telling your child to “exercise,” ask them to “play.”



Set an example and make exercise part of the family routine