This past year, I’m sure many of you have seen the recent NFL commercials promoting “Play 60”, but have you thought about what the meaning and importance of this message is for children and adolescents? The NFL Play 60 campaign is enforcing the physical activity recommendations for children and adolescents, which is 60 minutes (1 hour) of moderate to vigorous physical activity each day. These 60 minutes can make a great difference in academic and athletic performance, weight status, and the overall health of an individual.
Sixty minutes may seem like a lot, but it is easier than you think for children and adolescents to meet this recommendation. Can the time spent watching television or time spent on the computer be limited and replaced with physical activity? The opportunities and choices for physical activity are endless! Running, biking, walking, skiing, basketball, rock climbing, and jumping rope are just a few options!
There are three types of activities that children should engage in, aerobic activities, muscle strengthening activities and bone strengthening activities:
- Aerobic: This type of activity should make up most of children’s 60 minutes of physical activity each day! Some examples of aerobic activities include: running, brisk walking, playing soccer, basketball, and dancing.
- Muscle Strengthening: Muscle strengthening activities should be included at least 3 days-per-week as part of the 60 minutes or more of play. Examples include: gymnastics, push-ups, sit-ups, swinging, and tree climbing.
- Bone Strengthening: Bone strengthening activities should be included at least 3 days-per-week as part of a child's 60 or more minutes of play. Examples include: jumping rope, running, hopping, skipping, and gymnastics.
Physical activity is an essential component to any healthy lifestyle. Along with a healthy diet, physical activity can help maintain a healthy weight, increase muscle and bone strength, reduce the risk of obesity, and also decrease the risk for cardiovascular and metabolic problems. Children should be encouraged to participate in a variety of activities to keep them interested and to help them discover their interests. Also, it is important that physical activity be thought of as something that is fun! This will help children develop a lifelong habit of physical activity, as well as a constant interest in physical activity.