We have talked before about the importance of not only exercising, but doing it regularly. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children and teens should be “physically active for at least 60 minutes per day,” although they stress that it doesn’t have to be 60 minutes of continuous activity. For example, if a child plays soccer for 20 minutes during PE at school and then plays basketball with his friends for 40 minutes after school, he would meet the AAP’s recommendation of 60 minutes of physical activity for that day.

On the other hand, if during a 60-minute PE class at school the class spends 30 minutes getting dressed, choosing teams, and lining up to play, and then the child watches TV and plays video games after school, he would not be active enough that day.

We know that regular exercise is good for kids. It has been shown to help them build strong self-esteem, sleep better, have more energy, decrease anxiety and depression, and have higher test scores in school. And as we have discussed in the past, a healthy diet and regular exercise is the best way to lose weight and prevent childhood obesity.

Since most children don’t usually get their exercise by running on a treadmill or using an exercise bike, it can be hard to always tell how many calories are being burned while exercising. Fortunately, it doesn’t really matter, as long as kids are getting 60 minutes or more of moderate physical activity each day and maintaining a healthy diet.

Still, it can be helpful to understand how children can burn more or fewer calories in different types of physical activities. Below is a list of some common exercises and how many calories they burn. All of the activities are based on an 80 pound child doing the listed exercise for 60 minutes.

  • Running at a moderate pace burns about 300 calories
  • Swimming burns about 220 calories
  • Playing tennis burns about 220 calories
  • Skateboarding burns about 180 calories
  • Shooting hoops in the backyard burns about 160 calories
  • Mowing the grass burns about 160 calories
  • Riding a bike at a leisurely pace burns about 145 calories
  • Playing volleyball burns about 125 calories
  • Doing housework burns about 106 calories
  • Walking at a moderate pace burns about 150 calories
  • Playing catch (football, baseball, etc.) burns about 100 calories
  • Standing and not doing anything only burns about 40 calories

We have gone over some of the following ideas, but I think it is important to remind everyone of a few ways to help stay active in fun ways.

  • Get the whole family involved in being more active. Most kids would rather be outside rather than watching TV, but they don’t usually like to play alone. Children learn from watching their parents, so get out there with them! If parents go outside to go for a walk or bike ride, or to play catch, the kids are usually right there wanting to do the same thing.
  • Make sure to use “active transportation” where you have to use stairs instead of elevators, or walk/ride a bike to school or to a friend’s house.
  • Encourage more unorganized outdoor free play.
  • Find an organized sport that you like. This could be a team sport, such as baseball, soccer, or football, or an individual sport, such as tennis, karate, or dance.
  • If you do play video games, limit your time to no more than an hour at a time, but play active games such as Dance Dance Revolution, Wii Sports and Wii Fit.

You will probably start noticing a theme with these articles – get active and stay active! The only way to be healthy is to do something about it. You have to make the choice to eat better and to exercise more. If you do, you will be healthier, live longer, feel better about yourself and set a good example for those around you. I know you can do it!

Until next week,

Coach Michael

Today’s Fun Fact: The world’s first parking meter was installed in Oklahoma City on July 16, 1935.

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