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When I was a kid we spent nearly every waking moment playing games and such OUTSIDE. We didn't have computers or video games to consume our time. Today's kids have a lot of modern devices that keep them inside and static.

How much time should kids be actively playing (exercising) a day or week? The NFL (American National Football League) has an ad campaign (Play-60) that encourages an hour a day of play. Does anyone know if there's any data to support this or any other amount per day?

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From an evolutionary standpoint, it's fairly clear that replacing basic physical things (natural food with processed food, exercise with TV, etc.) is a bad idea. But I see no problem with replacing "relaxing in the cave" with "relaxing on the couch" in the evenings, and so on. Can you know how much kids should be exercising? Probably not with any accuracy. But should they be doing it instead of video games? Most of the time. (Not posting this as an answer since I don't have data to support a specific amount). –  Matthew Read Mar 9 '11 at 20:26
    
I'd say get them away from all the stimulation and ge them outside. Kids can be huge bundles of energy. Let them get it out of their systems. –  Matt Chan Mar 26 '11 at 22:38
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Are you sure you didn't have TV? :-) –  Greg Apr 2 '11 at 16:24
    
I don't think there is anything to support. They are just encouraging kids get out play for an hour a day, and they are targeting sedentary kids. I don't think they are suggesting that highly active kids cut back to only an hour a day. They are not saying that this is the optimal amount of physical activity or any other claim about it's value other than a hour a day is better than no hours a day, and there's countless amounts of evidence that supports that. –  matt Apr 3 '11 at 4:33
    
+1 for being cognizant of causes to childhood obesity - a huge epidemic. –  Ryan Miller Jul 13 '11 at 20:19

2 Answers 2

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No. To my knowledge, there is no conclusive amount of exercise for children that is all-encompassing. Realistically, just look at your kids. If they're fat, they need more exercise and less food, providing that there are no other health issues at hand. If they're too skinny (read "too skinny" as "malnourished"), they need more food, once again taking into consideration any health issues they may have.

Just like adults who react differently to different amounts of activity, children react differently to different amounts of activity. There's an article on the New York Times that will offer some little more information, but not a lot.

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Considering other health issues is important as @md5sum put it. Environmental factors can also play into health. –  Matt Chan Mar 26 '11 at 22:46

There are conflicting reports from scared moms associations to killer sergeant coaches that add a lot of misinformation to the mix. I ran across an article by Dr. Lon Kilgore that has some sane guidelines, and while it was written from the perspective of weight training I think it has good implications elsewhere: "Weightlifting for Special Populations: Youth". There's a companion article to this from the same author: "Misconception About Training Youth".

Some of the points raised are:

  • Any weight training should be done under the supervision of well trained adults (certified by a standards organization "with professional membership and that the certification examination is rigorous")
  • "Total exercise training time should not exceed 15 hours per week. Coaches must consider the cumulative effect of all the trainee’s physical activities. We recommend a holistic approach to training, an approach that requires the coach to be cognizant of the trainee’s exercise/activity behaviors on and off campus." (quote from Dr. Kilgore)

I left out a number of weightlifting specific guidelines; however, both articles have several supporting studies that are cited. I wanted to focus on the 15 hours per week number.

When you think about it, 15 hours per week is 2 hours and 8.5 minutes every day 7 days a week. If the child only does his/her physical activity during the school week, that's 3 hours per day. That time includes gym, sports activities, rigorous play (pickup games), etc. Granted that number is specifically geared towards kids who are lifting weights, but if the kid is involved in football or another physically demanding sport It's a number worth paying attention to.

The idea is that kids recuperate a lot more quickly than adults, but they still need rest to let the muscles grow and the kids become stronger.

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