Parent Tips on Physical Activity

You play an important role in making sure that your child is physically active. This resource includes tips on how to make exercise fun.

The following resource is provided courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Are there special recommendations for young people?

It is recommended that children and adolescents participate in at least 60 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity most days of the week, preferably daily.

photograph of children playing with large soap bubblesChildren and adolescents can choose any type of moderate or higher intensity physical activity, such as brisk walking, playing tag, jumping rope, or swimming, as long as it is adds up to at least one hour a day.

For children and adolescents, regular physical activity has beneficial effects on the following aspects of health:

photograph of adult and child roller skatingChildren and adolescents who are just beginning to be physically active should start out slowly and gradually build to higher levels in order to prevent the risk of injury or feel defeated from unrealistic goals. It is important that children and adolescents are encouraged to be physically active by doing things that interest them. This will help them establish an active lifestyle early on.

This physical activity recommendation is from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010.

Tips for Parents

As a parent, you have an important role in shaping your children's physical activity attitudes and behaviors. Here are some tips to encourage your children to be more physically active.

  • Set a positive example by leading an active lifestyle yourself, and make physical activity part of your family's daily routine such as designating time for family walks or playing active games together.
  • Provide opportunities for children to be active by playing with them. Give them active toys and equipment, and take them to places where they can be active
  • Offer positive reinforcement for the physical activities in which your child participates and encourage them as they express interest in new activities.
  • Make physical activity fun. Fun activities can be anything the child enjoys, either structured or non-structured. They may range from team sports, individual sports, and/or recreational activities such as walking, running, skating, bicycling, swimming, playground activities, and free-time play.
  • Ensure that the activity is age appropriate and, to ensure safety, provide protective equipment such as helmets, wrist pads, and knee pads.
  • Find a convenient place to be active regularly.
  • Limit the time your children watch television or play video games to no more than two hours per day. Instead, encourage your children to find fun activities to do with family members or on their own that simply involve more activity (walking, playing chase, dancing).

Related Resources

For more information about physical activity visit the CDC, Physical Activity Web links.

For educational and interactive Web sites especially for children and teens, please visit the links below. These sites discuss the need to be active and offer ideas on how to get youth moving.

BAM! Body and Mind, CDC
BAM! Body and Mind Designed for kids 9-13 years old, BAM! Body and Mind gives them the information they need to make healthy lifestyle choices.

Powerful Bones. Powerful Girls.TM
Educates and encourages girls aged 9-12 years to establish lifelong, healthy habits that build and maintain strong bones.

Parent Tips on Physical Activity. CDC. n.d. English.

Last Reviewed: September 2011

Last Updated: December 11, 2015