Walking and physical activity such as biking, swimming, and running have been shown to significantly improve physical, emotional, and social health for all ages. With our busy schedules and increased screen-time the challenge is finding the time and meaningful motivation to achieve a balanced lifestyle to stay active.
How many steps are recommended for children? Why is it important? What are some strategies to stay motivated as a family? Where can these ideas be implemented?
HOW MUCH WALKING IS RECOMMENDED FOR MY CHILD?
A systematic review from 2011 indicated that elementary school aged boys should be taking 13,000-15,000 steps/day and girls 11,000-12,000 steps/day. A pedometer is a portable device, such as a FitBit, that counts steps. This will give the most accurate reading of actual steps taken. The correlation of steps is in accordance to evidence-based recommendations of 60 minutes per day of moderate to vigorous activity for children.
WHY IS WALKING SO IMPORTANT?
Increasing physical activity can lead to improved cardiovascular fitness, improved metabolism, and an increase in caloric expenditure, which can decrease the risk for obesity, improving the overall health of our children and families.
WHAT CAN FAMILIES DO?
- Join the OTG Fit Families program! Check out the program details and the fun it entails here.
- Communicate with your child’s therapist(s) about your child’s progress and involvement within the program, or in relation to physical activity. Therapists and staff at Oceanside Therapy Group support families staying fit!
- Talk to other parents and friends in the community about staying active together. Physical activity can be fun in groups. Organize a play-date at the park, beach, trampoline park, 5K walk/race, or another fun activity.
- Join your child in play. Play hide-and-seek, tag, take a walk together, ride bikes, go hiking, and more.
OTHER FUN WAYS TO STAY ACTIVE
- If you have a dog, talks turns walking him/her
- Have a dance party
- Play sports together (kick a soccer ball, hit the basketball courts)
- Sign your child up for a sport in the community – gymnastics, soccer, dance, etc.
- Special occasion steps – Visit a theme park, vacation-related activities, trick-or-treating, ice-skating etc.
- Compete within your family to make it fun and challenging!
- Use home based-incentive programs to get your child even more motivated!
Written by: The PT Dept. for Oceanside Therapy Group
Source: Tudor-Locke C, Craig C, Beets M, Belton S, et al: How many steps/day are enough? For children and adolescents. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity. 2011, 8:78.