Move It, Move It: How to Be Sure Your Kids Are Active Enough

With school, clarinet practice, a bit of screen time and all that homework, your kids’ after-school schedule might feel pretty packed. Now consider that children need one full hour of physical activity every day — overwhelming, huh?

With limited recess times and gym-class cuts, not all children will get enough activity during the school day. And then there are the weekends, spring breaks and summers. Although you might not feel like you have 60 minutes to spare, especially on hectic days, you can be sure your kids are moving their bodies by breaking up that hour of activity into manageable 10 to 15-minute chunks.

Here is a solution to get those kids up and active for every busy day of your family’s week:

  1. Walk or bike to school.
  2. If school is too far, drive part way and walk the rest of the way.
  3. Enroll your child in organized sport programs for scheduled exercise sessions.
  4. Explore your city Parks and Recreation Departments for classes that are reasonably priced. This is great way to try a new activity.
  5. Talk to your PTA about offering a walking or running club that takes place twice a week before school and/or during recess. Offer an incentive for every lap or mile.
  6. Make family time ACTIVE! Go for a hike, bike ride or walk in the neighborhood. Sign up for 5Ks that are kid-friendly.
  7. Not a confident athlete? Try non-traditional sports like fencing, rock climbing, ice skating, trampoline dodgeball and hockey. Hold play dates and birthday parties in places where kids can experience the fun of fitness.

Why this matters so much

Your kids get countless physical and mental health benefits from exercising regularly. Studies show they will do better in school, have more positive interactions with their classmates and will be happier. Of course, as their parent, you want all of these things for your children!

How to really make it happen

Help kids get the exercise they need by focusing on creating opportunities after school and on the weekends that you all will enjoy together. If tackling an hour of activity seems too hard, set a goal to begin with ten minutes — a short after-dinner walk, throwing a frisbee in the park, taking on a push-up challenge in the living room. Then, each week, increase that time by ten minutes until you get to the goal of one hour a day. You may have so much fun that an hour passes before you know it!

If all else fails

If your schedule takes over your activity time, or you’re getting resistance from your kids, up the ante by asking another family to join. Adding more kids to the mix and having another adult accountability partner may make it easier and more fun for all of you to stick to each day.

Published on: September 15, 2014
About the Author
Photo of Thea Runyan MPH
Thea Runyan, MPH is the Lead Behavior Coach for the Pediatric Weight Control Clinic at Stanford Children’s Hospital and cofounder of Kurbo Health, the first mobile, scalable weight management solution for kids, teens, and families. To learn more about Kurbo, please visit
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