How Much Exercise Do Kids Need?

To help us stay regular, our bodies need a healthy blend of the following components: food, fiber, water, and exercise. We've shared tips on making fiber fun for youngsters and how to keep your kids hydrated throughout the day. One area we haven't discussed yet is exercise (i.e., staying active).

Most kids get their daily physical activity from playing outside. This might include:

  • Tag—You're It!
  • Hide & Go Seek
  • Recreational Sports
  • Running
  • Bike Riding
  • Swimming
  • Dancing
  • Jump Roping

And with advancements in home gaming technologies, indoor exercise is gaining popularity among kids, as well. 

Regardless of whether your kids are kicking the soccer ball outside, or playing virtual dodgeball at home, these are all great examples of play-related exercises. 

Why is play the best form of exercise?

When it comes to exercise, regardless of age, there are three elements we all need to work on:

  • Endurance
  • Strength
  • Flexibility

For us adults, that's usually a trip to the gym, where you'll combine running on the treadmill with strength training at the free-weights station to FINALLY stretching in the mat area. 

For kids, play offers them the unique advantage of hitting those three essential components—all at once and in less time. Here's an added bonus, play makes staying active fun! And as American poet Diane Ackerman eloquently put it, "Play is the brain's favorite way of learning." 

That's right! Play not only keeps your kids' bodies strong and healthy, but it also helps them socialize with others, learn new skills, and build confidence.

A simple trip to the playground, for instance, includes running, climbing, crawling etc. All of which is usually done in a group. This type of activity keeps their little hearts pumping and their bodies getting the aerobic exercise they need.

According to the Mayo Clinic, aerobic exercise helps us strengthen our muscle tissue and vital organs, build stamina, and boost our mood! 

Regular physical activity can also support regular bowel patterns: "Good muscle tone in general is important for regular bowel movements. The abdominal wall muscles and the diaphragm all play a crucial role in the process…" (Harvard Health Publishing).

But how much exercise do kids "actually" need?

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, it's recommended that children, ages 6 through 17, get at least 1 hour of moderate-to-vigorous activity, 3 days per week. 

"Most activities can be aerobic, like walking, running, or anything that makes the heart beat faster. They also need activities that make their muscles and bones strong, like climbing on playground equipment, playing basketball, and jumping rope," (DHHS)

Wondering what the difference is between moderate vs. vigorous activity? Harvard Health Publishing outlines each in the following passage:

"Moderate-intensity activities are those that get you moving fast enough or strenuously enough to burn off three to six times as much energy per minute as you do when you are sitting quietly, or exercises that clock in at 3 to 6 METs. Vigorous-intensity activities burn more than 6 METs."

3 Aerobic Exercises for Kids

Now that you know how much exercise kids need, it's time to put that information to good use! We know you can't always bring the kids to the playground or park area. 

So, to give you a hand, we've listed a few play ideas for keeping your kids moving, staying active, and having fun at home!

DIY Water Slide

With the weather heating up, there's no better time to keep your kids cool and active than with a homemade water slide. You can always purchase waterslides online or at your local retailer, but this article from Backyard Sidekick provides easy step-by-step instructions on how to build your own.

This activity will no doubt keep your kids running back and forth for more sliding! Just note that when it's ready to go, you'll probably want to grab a swimsuit and get in on the action! 


Hopefully, you have fond memories of playing kickball as a child. Why not share some of that nostalgia with your own kids. Kickball is incredibly easy to play, and even easier to set up. You can create bases in your backyard, choose teams, and make it a weekly family event!

Obstacle Course

To kick play up a notch a bit, consider making your own obstacle course. You can either do this inside or outside of the home. Create different stations that your kids need to complete before heading to the next one. This might include a jump rope station, hopscotch area, crab-crawl level, and finally a series of jumping jacks. First one to complete the course wins a prize!

To help you with setting up your own courses at home, check out this article from Tiny Beans for some fun, easy ideas!

Stay Connected!

Remember to check back for nutrition resources, recipes, how-to tips, and creative DIY ideas from our blog page!

Now go out there and have some fun!