How to Get Your Kids Active for 60 Minutes Per Day

Filed under: Big Kids, Tweens, Teens

As part of the solution to North America's growing obesity epidemic, it is highly recommended that our children complete 60 minutes of vigorous activity on a daily basis. Along with eating a well-balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables, and loaded with lean proteins, the daily activity will help kids maintain a healthy body weight by burning the extra calories that may otherwise be stored as fat.

In my practice, parents concerned about their child's weight understand the importance of getting their kids active, but often ask me how to get started? I tell them 60 minutes of vigorous activity burns between 450 – 600 calories and their kids should participate in activities that will (at the very least) burn this amount.

Calculate the Number of Calories Burned During Exercise

As adults, we look for how many calories burned on the treadmill after a 45-minute run. So why can't we do the same for our kids? There are many online tools that help you calculate the number of calories burned during an activity. One site has a tool called "The CALObrator," which allows you to select the type of exercise, the intensity level and the duration of the activity. Using this information along with age and gender, it calculates the number of calories burned. This is a great tool for parents to use when designing their kids' daily activity routine.

More Effort = More Calories Burned

In general, exercises that use more muscles will require more effort and energy and therefore burn more calories. For example, walking on a trail with hills and valleys will not only be more fun but will also burn more calories in the same amount of time versus walking on a treadmill. Parents should be diligent about the types of activities they select for their kids keeping in mind that kids need to be excited and entertained.

The following is a list of activities your child can participate in along with the estimated number of calories burned. Use this as a frame of reference as you build his/her daily activity routine.

1. Hiking is an excellent activity that costs nothing. A 45-minute walk through the neighbourhood trails burns between 350 - 400 calories. The varying terrain is also a great way to strengthen muscles and joints and improve balance.

2. Jogging for 30 minutes burns about 250 - 350 calories and is great for your child's heart health. His or her legs will get stronger as well.

3. Cycling burns 300 - 400 calories every 40 minutes. It also builds leg strength and endurance.

4. Skating is an excellent option as it burns 350 - 400 calories in 40 minutes and is a great social event.

5. Team sports like ice hockey and soccer burn at least 400 – 500 calories in 45 minutes. They're great because time goes by quickly and the team aspect is interesting and fun for most kids.

6. Skipping Rope can be done anywhere. It burns 250 - 300 calories in just 20 minutes. It's fun and safe for all ages.

Reggie Reyes is a certified kinesiologist and personal trainer. He is the president and founder of pt4kids a company that creates specialized training programs for kids all ages and fitness levels.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.