What, Why and How to Play 60 Minutes Per Day

Sponsored Editorial supplied by Annapolis Pediatrics

What does “play 60 minutes per day” mean?
The American Heart Association recommends that children ages 2 years and older get at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity per day. What does “moderate” activity mean? Examples of moderate activities include: riding a bike, swimming, and walking briskly. What about “vigorous” activity? Vigorous activities include: playing soccer, dancing, and running. Why is physical activity so important? Research demonstrates that children and teens who are physically active have healthier bodies and minds than those who are not. Period. 

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Why should my children play for 60 minutes?
Physical activity helps our body in many ways. When we exercise, blood flows faster through the body making the heart a stronger muscle. When the heart is stronger – it can pump more blood with less effort, which then lowers blood pressure. Weight bearing activities (any physical activity that keeps you on your feet) builds and strengthens bones. This is particularly important for children and teens because the greatest gains in bone mass occur just before and during puberty. Children obtain their lifetime peak bone mass in their teens. Exercise increases muscle size therefore improving muscle tone and strength. And additionally, physical activity burns calories and reduces body fat.

Physical activity helps the mind too. Physical activity releases chemicals in our body called endorphins. Endorphins are known for triggering an internal positive feeling. Routine physical activity has been shown to improve self-esteem, reduce depression and anxiety, reduce stress, and improve sleep. All of these things combined together make for a healthier child!

How can I help my child get their 60 minutes of play per day?
So, what can parents do to help and encourage kids to be physically active? First and foremost, set a good example by leading an active lifestyle yourself. Make physical activity a family affair - do things together - take a walk, go swimming or have a dance party! Instead of watching TV and playing video games, encourage children to go outside and play. When they do play video games, encourage them to play video games that require movement (like dance and sport games). Give your children gifts that promote physical activity – such as a bike, scooter or even a fitness monitor. Encourage your child to join a team or group activity - this can enhance their enjoyment of physical activity by doing it with friends and making bonds. No matter what it is they choose to do – be positive and compliment them on their efforts of staying active!REECE

For more reasons on why and how to play 60 minutes per day, be sure to visit the activities for kids section on the American Heart Association’s website at: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyKids/ActivitiesforKids/Activities-for-Kids_UCM_304155_SubHomePage.jsp.

Gwyn Reece is a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner at Annapolis Pediatrics, where she has been for the past 12 years. She received her Bachelor of Science from Tulane University; her Bachelor of Science in Nursing and Master of Science in Nursing from The Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing. Gwyn lives in Crofton with her husband, Josh and her two children, Kate & Andrew.

Sponsored editorial provided by Annapolis Pediatrics. Contact them at 410.263.6363 or annapolispediatrics.com

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