How Much Is Enough?
It can be confusing trying to figure out which guidelines to follow (2-7). Your safest bet and easiest way to remember is “60-60-60” since the most comprehensive guidelines recommend 120 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per day (60 minutes of structured and 60 minutes of unstructured) and sedentary time no longer than 60 minutes at a time (see Sedentary Behavior). Providing 120 mins of activity, however, doesn’t just mean increasing recess or outdoor play time as this does not necessarily increase physical activity for every child. For already active children, more playground time can mean more active play. But for some children who typically choose to engage in more sedentary options they may just be sedentary longer.
Child Care Vs. Home
A common problem with ensuring your child gets enough physical activity is that they are in the care of both parents and providers. If a child is in a child care facility, one must not assume the teacher is meeting the total physical activity minutes for the day. On the other hand, teachers also cannot assume the child is achieving his/her physical activity goals at home. So it is important to have open communication between both the provider and caregiver about the child's daily physical activity routine. Parents should also reinforce fundamental movement skills children learn in the classroom and provide additional opportunities at home.
Visit the Healthy Kids Resource Center, physical activities to do with your children for ideas!
Contrary to popular belief, studies show that children in child care programs are generally NOT active! So what does this mean for parents? Continuous at-home involvement is the key
120 Minutes Well Spent!
While 120 mins seems like a long time, it can be broken up into shorter bouts of activity. Some of that activity (60 minutes) should be spent doing structured bouts of activity, meaning “adult-led” physical activities with an intended goal or outcome. The other 60 minutes (or more) may be unstructured or “active free-play”. Finally, children should not be sedentary for longer than 60 minutes at any give time. Be sure to get children up periodically and get them moving throughout the day!
Structured play is an organized or "guided" activity, with intentional goals or objectives that give children opportunities to practice key fundamental movement skills such as those found in state or local Pre-K standards . These activities can also teach children their colors, numbers, or letters.
- Hopscotch – uses numbers to teach a child to hop on one foot;
- Red Light, Green Light – uses colors to teach a child to step forward and backward;
- Dance – uses various musical genres and lyrical messaging to teach a child simple dance patterns;
- Sports Drills – teaches physical motor skills such as dribbling, throwing or catching a ball