What is the Right Amount of Exercise for Kids Under 10?

September 14, 2016

It’s no secret that exercise is important for children of all ages. It can sometimes be difficult to know how much exercise is needed and what activities are good for children of different ages. While every child is different in terms of just how much physical activity they need, here are some tips and guidelines to consider for kids under the age of 10.

As a general rule, it is recommended by the CDC that all children have a minimum of 60 minutes of physical activity every day (these are guidelines only, please consult your physician on appropriate activity recommendations for your children). This may seem like a lot, but there are several different things that can constitute physical activity.

How do I know if my child is getting enough exercise?

Implementing the right amount of exercise into your child’s daily routine is extremely important, but many parents are left wondering, “where do I start?” You should start first with documenting what activity your child currently does that you’re aware of.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Does your child walk to and from school?
  • Do they participate in organized sports either with their school or with a local team?
  • How would they normally spend their recesses at school – if you’re not sure, ask them.

Once you’ve determined the amount of activity they already do, you can easily work in the rest. For example, if your child walks 10 minutes each way to school, has soccer twice a week for 60 minutes and swimming once a week for 60 minutes, this would be a total of 280 minutes of physical activity per week. From there, you can slot in a couple of family walks and enforce outdoor playtime after school. You’ll be up to an hour/day in no time!

If you have a babysitter or a nanny before and after school, ask them to incorporate a walk to the park or playtime outside. Every family routine is different, so if your child attends an after-school daycare program or something similar, ask the daycare provider what types of activities the children do on a daily basis. If it’s TV or video games every day, try asking if outside time or a trip to the park is a possibility instead.

Different types of activity

There are three overarching types of activity:

  1. Aerobic
  2. Muscle strengthening
  3. Bone strengthening

All are equally important as each type has different specific benefits. Here are some examples of each activity:

Aerobic activity

This should make up the biggest chunk of the 60 minutes/day. That being said, this is the easiest type of activity to complete and your child likely already does some sort of aerobic activity already! Brisk walking, running or playing vigorous sports like soccer, hockey, ultimate frisbee or flag football are all aerobic activities. Try to have your child partake in vigorous aerobic activity at least three times per week.

Muscle strengthening activity

Three times per week you should incorporate muscle-strengthening activities into your child’s activity schedule. Pushups, sit-ups, squats, and gymnastics are all great examples of muscle strengthening activities. These are not always age appropriate, of course. If your child is younger, playing on a jungle gym or climbing trees are often great substitutes.

Bone strengthening activity

Bone-strengthening activities do just what the name says – help to make sure your child’s bones stay healthy and strong! At least three times per week, try to make sure your child does bone-strengthening activities such as jump rope or running – remember, this can include sports like soccer or lacrosse as well!

Team sports

Team sports are a great way to introduce young children to physical activity. If your child is new to team sports, having a familiar face on the same team can help. Is there a neighbour or a friend at school that already plays in a local soccer or baseball league? Many leagues will accommodate players that wish to be on the same team – especially new players!

In addition to allowing children to be more active, team sports also teach other values like commitment, teamwork, sportsmanship, time management and more. It also helps your child make new friends while having fun!

Lead by example

While making sure your child gets enough exercise is important, it’s equally important to make sure you do as well. Leading by example will help ensure your child knows the importance of staying active and fit. Try turning some of your family time into physical activity time.

Take a walk after dinner a few times a week, go public skating or swimming or organize a backyard obstacle course. Whatever your kids like to do for fun, do them as a family!

Another idea is to have each member of the family choose an activity and alternate weekly. This way, it stays interesting and fun!


The best way to start to incorporate physical activity into your child’s routine is to involve them. Try to make the most out of what your child likes. Talk to them about what they like to do to stay active and build from there.

Whether it’s team sports or more laid back activities like walking or biking, activities that your child enjoys will prove to be more successful in the long run.

The above article only indicates suggested exercise. Please consult a physician before having children participate in any physical activity.

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