Activity Recommendations for Kids

The consensus of government, health organisations and medical experts is that children should be physically active for at least 60 minutes every day in all kinds of activity.
Activity Recommendations for Kids

A child's exercise and activity levels affect body weight. Body weight results from the relationship between "calories in" from food and beverages and "calories out" from metabolism, growth, and physical activity. Two elements make up "calories out" -- regular physical activity, which burns calories, and screen time, or time spent in front of the TV, which reduces time spent burning calories.

The Goal – 1 Hour Of Daily Physical Activity
The consensus of government, health organisations and medical experts is that children should be physically active for at least 60 minutes every day in all kinds of activity, from playing outside after school to riding a bike to the store. This level of activity requires time for active play outside of school hours.

Several societal trends work against children getting the activity that they need. Many young children begin their schooling in pre-school or all-day kindergarten, limiting time for unstructured, active play. The time, space and staffing for physical activity may be limited in day care centres, extended day and after-school programs, and other community settings.1 Opportunities for children to be active at school have diminished, with schools cutting back on recess time or physical education classes to allow more time for academic subjects.

Reasons To Limit Screen Time
Limiting screen time is a key strategy to reduce the amount of time spent in sedentary behaviour and encourage the child to find something more active to do. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends limiting screen time for children older than two years of age to a maximum of two hours per day and suggests no screen time for children under the age of two.

It is estimated that more than 25% of school-age children watch at least four hours of television daily and the number of hours of daily television watching has been linked to weight gain.2 Children burn fewer calories sitting in front of a screen than they do playing outside. Furthermore, children who have a television in their bedroom are more likely to develop weight issues, probably because watching the television is so convenient. 3

The effects of childhood television watching may carry into the adult years. One study found that adults who watched the most television as children weighed more, had higher blood cholesterol and were less fit than those adults who watched less television as children.4

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1 Committee on Nutrition, American Academy of Pediatrics. Policy Statement. Prevention of pediatric overweight and obesity. Pediatrics. 2003;112:424-30.

2 Andersen RE, Crespo CJ, Bartlett SJ, Cheskin LJ, Pratt M. Relationship of physical activity and television watching with body weight and level of fatness among children: Results from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. JAMA. 1998;279:938-42.

3 Dennison BA, Erb TA, Jenkins PL. Television viewing and television in bedroom associated with overweight risk among low-income preschool children. Pediatrics. 2002;109:1028-35.

4 Hancox RJ, Milne BJ, Poulton R. Association between child and adolescent television viewing and adult health: a longitudinal birth cohort study. Lancet. 2004;364:257-62.