How Much Active Play Do Kids Need?

Physical activity isn’t just for burning off excess energy, although that is one benefit. It plays a key role in a child’s health and development. Keep reading to learn if your kiddo is getting enough, the right kind, and all the great things being active can do for them.

 Physical Activity Guidelines by Age

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has guidelines for physical activity based on age:

Physical Activity for Children Ages 2-5

The DHHS doesn’t specify a set amount of time for preschool-aged kids. Instead, they simply recommend that children who are 2-5 years old play actively several times a day. Many children’s health and education experts recommend a mix of adult-led, physical activity and unstructured free play.

 Physical Activity for Children Ages 6-17

Kids who are 6-17 years old should get 60 minutes or more of moderate-to-vigorous activity every day

While this guideline specifies an hour, how your child reaches that number can vary. In other words, they don’t have to do it all at once. Speaking to WebMD, Blaise Nemeth, MD, a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness notes, “A lot of countries have recommendations that children get about three hours of activity a day, or about 15 minutes every hour or so they’re awake.” Nemeth goes on to say that kids tend to be active in shorter bursts and have shorter attention spans. Getting them active for a bit every hour plays into their natural tendencies.


The Three Types of Physical Activity Kids Need

For the 6+ age group, how they’re active is just as important as how much they’re active. There are three types of physical activity kids (and adults) need to be their healthiest.


 Also known as endurance, aerobic activity is anything that gets your heart and lungs pumping. As we said earlier, most of the physical activity should be moderate-to-vigorous. Three days a week it should be vigorous. On a scale of 0 to 10, with 0 being sitting and 10 going full tilt, moderate-intensity activity is a 5 or 6 and vigorous-intensity activity is a 7 or 8. Both running and walking are aerobic.

 Muscle Strengthening

Three days a week, muscle-strengthening activity should be part of the 60-minute minimum. Muscle strengthening can be anything that uses body weight as resistance or makes muscles do more work than usual. Playing catch and repetitive throwing count towards this. So does jumping.

Bone Strengthening

Bone strengthening is anything that puts a force on the bones of the body and should be done three days a week. Running and jumping are bone-strengthening, while also being muscle strengthening and aerobic.

Benefits of Physical Activity for Kids

It’s pretty well-known that being active improves kids’ physical health. But did you know that physical activity can do so much more for children than just that? It offers a whole host of benefits, including:

  • Improved cognition, including test-taking ability, memory, processing speed, and more
  • Reduced risk of depression
  • Reduced risk of becoming overweight
  • Reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes
  • Lower blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels

Tuvi Ball Makes Being Active Fun

Keeping physical activity age-appropriate and fun are key to getting your kids into it. That’s where TÜVI comes in. It’s fun to throw, catch, chase, kick, and so much more! Use it on a field, in the water, in your driveway, at a playground, while camping… anywhere there’s room. Sub it in as the ball for your favorite sport, or make up a whole new game. Make sure everyone stretches before playing, and you AND your kids will be well on your way to getting enough physical activity.



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