You are on page 1of 3

See discussions, stats, and author profiles for this publication at: https://www.researchgate.

net/publication/296848150

Physical Activity in Children and Adolescents

Article  in  ACSM Bulletin · January 2015

CITATIONS READS
2 1,066

1 author:

Avery Faigenbaum
The College of New Jersey
301 PUBLICATIONS   7,612 CITATIONS   

SEE PROFILE

Some of the authors of this publication are also working on these related projects:

Rugby power performance View project

Pediatric Inactivity Triad View project

All content following this page was uploaded by Avery Faigenbaum on 05 March 2016.

The user has requested enhancement of the downloaded file.


ACSM Information On…

Physical Activity in Children and


Adolescents
Physical Activity Needs in Children Physical activity is a learned behavior that Physical Activity Characteristics of
and Adolescents is influenced by family, friends, teachers and Children and Adolescents
Daily active play and physical activity have coaches, as well as the environment. Children The natural activity pattern of boys and girls
traditionally been an important part of life for and adolescents who are not exposed to is characterized by short bursts of physical
children and adolescents. Today, computers confidence-building opportunities in their activity interspersed with brief rest periods as
and social media have decreased the need physical abilities early in life tend to be less needed. Most children participate in physical
and desire for children to move and play. active later in life. Movement skills such as activity to have fun, to make friends, and to
Participation in physical activity decreases with running, jumping, and throwing can serve as learn something new. While youth sports
age, and the decline is greater in girls than the building blocks for a lifetime of physical programs can provide an opportunity for young
boys. The challenges associated with getting activity. Children who do not develop these athletes to be physically active, not all children
kids active every day should be met with age- skills early in life may be less likely to meet enjoy intense competition and some boys
appropriate physical activities, enthusiastic or exceed recommendations for daily physical and girls may not prepared for the demands
leadership, and support from family and activity later in life. of sports practice and games. Children and
friends. adolescents with poor physical fitness are
Physical Activity Benefits for Children likely to drop out of sports due to frustration,
A sedentary lifestyle is recognized as a major and Adolescents embarrassment or physical discomforts, like
risk factor for obesity and cardiovascular Regular participation in different types of pain or injury.
disease. The prevalence of overweight and physical activity is essential for healthy growth
obesity among children and adolescents is and development. Evidence shows that Children and adolescents should enjoy the
a major public health concern, and weight- physical activity can have a beneficial effect on process of being physically active. Although
related health problems are being diagnosed body composition, cholesterol, blood pressure, the value of creative free play should not be
earlier in childhood. A report from the Centers blood sugar, aerobic fitness, muscular strength, overlooked, physical activities with competent
for Disease Control and Prevention highlights movement skills, and bone health. Regular and caring instruction provide a unique
troubling trends among high school students physical activity can also improve academic opportunity for children and adolescents to
in the United States: performance and promote feelings of well- learn new skills, improve exercise technique
• Only 27% of students accumulate 60 minutes being. The positive lifestyle behaviors such and feel good about their accomplishments.
of physical activity daily as participating in daily physical activity that This is called physical literacy. The long-
• Only 52% of students participate in muscle begin during childhood and adolescence tend lasting value of developing physically literate
strengthening activities to carry over into adulthood. In the long run, individuals should be appreciated by parents,
• Only 29% of students attend daily physical daily participation in outdoor games, fitness teachers and coaches. Children who learn how
education activities and recreational sports will help to play with confidence and are motivated to
• 41% of students play video or computer to improve the health and well-being of all participate in a variety of games and activities
games for 3 or more hours per day children and adolescents. are more likely to be physically active for a
• 32% of students watch television 3 or more lifetime. Even inactive boys and girls can
hours per day improve physical literacy by participating in
physical activity programs that are engaging Children and adolescents should also Youth Physical Activity Guidelines
and fun. Just like reading and writing, children participate in activities that promote muscle Children and adolescents should accumulate a minimum
need to learn how to perform movement games strength on two or three days per week. of 60 minutes of physical activity daily as part of
transportation, physical education, sport, free play and
and sport skills safely and properly. Examples of activities for young children planned exercise. The activities should be a combination
include climbing, jumping, tumbling and of moderate and vigorous intensity. Moderate intensity is
Promoting Success With Physical gymnastics, and a variety of games. Older defined as activity that increases breathing, sweating, and
heart rate and vigorous intensity substantially increases
Activity Participation: Tips for Parents, children and adolescents can participate in breathing, sweating, and heart rate.
Coaches and Teachers supervised strength training programs provided
The following tips may help parents, coaches the focus is on developing proper exercise Types of Physical Activity
and teachers develop safe, and enjoyable technique. Good form and mechanics should Activities for youth should be developmentally appropriate,
offer variety, and be enjoyable. Examples of activities
physical activity programs for children and be stressed. Examples of appropriate activities that may be classified as aerobic include bicycle riding,
adolescents: include body weight calisthenics (i.e. push- walking, running, games, dancing, soccer, and swimming.
• Focus on intrinsic values such as skill Note that there is little need for healthy children and
ups, pull-ups), rock wall climbing, obstacle adolescents to monitor their heart rate during the activity
improvement, personal successes and having courses and strength exercises with dumbbells, period.
fun medicine balls and elastic bands. Children and adolescents should also participate in activities
• Recognize individual differences and that promote muscle strength on two or three days per
capabilities in children and adolescents of the Traditional games and fitness activities that week. Examples of activities for young children include
same age require participants to run fast, jump high, climbing, jumping, tumbling and gymnastics, and a variety
of games. Older children and adolescents can participate
• Offer a variety of creative activities and avoid change direction or maintain balance can in supervised strength training programs provided the focus
regimentation develop and reinforce needed movement skills. is on developing proper exercise technique. Good form and
mechanics should be stressed. Examples of appropriate
• Ensure children and adolescents wear Jumping rope, animal races, trail running, activities include body weight calisthenics (i.e. push-ups,
appropriate footwear and clothing scavenger hunts and hop scotch can get youth pull-ups) and strength exercises with dumbbells, medicine
• Regularly inspect activity areas and explain moving in fun activities. Participation in more balls and elastic bands.
safety guidelines than one sport or activity provides the child Traditional games and fitness activities that require
• Be a good role model and engage in regular with skills that can be applied to others. participants to run fast, jump high, change direction or
maintain balance can develop and reinforce needed
physical activity movement skills. Jumping rope, animal races, obstacle
• Emphasize ‘best effort you can do’ rather than Sedentary activity is a strong contributor to courses, scavenger hunts and hopscotch can get youth
‘being the best’ overweight and low physical fitness. Sedentary moving in fun activities.

• Offer opportunities for older children to help activities such as television viewing, computer Sedentary inactivity is a strong contributor to overweight
teach the younger children. and telephone use, and inactive video games and lack of physical fitness. Sedentary activities such as
television viewing, computer and telephone use, and
should be limited to < 2 hours per day. inactive video games should be discouraged and limited to
Physical Activity Guidelines for < 2 hours per day.
Children and Adolescents Special Considerations for Children and
Based on the physical activity needs, benefits, Adolescents Special Considerations for Children and
and characteristics of children and adolescents, • Provide positive feedback and encourage an Adolescents
active lifestyle. •Y  outh are not simply miniature adults and have specific
the following guidelines should be used to needs regarding physical activity. Their body systems are
maximize health and well-being among • Children and youth should be exposed to a growing and developing. Adult exercise and conditioning
children and adolescents. Children and variety of physical activities and sports. This programs are not appropriate for youth. High stress or
is important to prevent overuse injury and to continuous repetitive movements should be completed with
adolescents should accumulate a minimum of caution, as this kind of exercise has a potential for injury.
60 minutes of physical activity daily as part of develop a full variety of movement skills. • Provide youth with positive feedback and encourage an
transportation, physical education, sport, free • Proper skills and mechanics should be learned active lifestyle.
• Children and youth should be exposed to and
play and planned exercise. The activities should from a qualified fitness professional in order encouraged to participate in a variety of physical
be a combination of moderate and vigorous to prevent injury and to encourage their activities, games and sports.
success. • Youth should learn the proper skills and exercise
intensity. Moderate intensity is defined as techniques from a qualified professional in order to
activity that increases breathing, sweating, and • Youth who cannot accumulate at least 60 prevent injury.
heart rate and vigorous intensity substantially minutes of physical activity per day should • Youth have immature thermoregulatory systems and care
over time gradually increase their frequency should be given to make sure they are properly hydrated
increases breathing, sweating, and heart rate. and exercise in comfortable environments.
and duration of activity until they can reach • Youth who cannot accumulate at least 60 minutes of
Types of Physical Activity this activity goal. physical activity per day should over time gradually
increase their frequency and duration of activity until they
Activities for children and adolescents should • Youth with special conditions (e.g., diabetes, can reach this activity goal.
be varied, developmentally appropriate, and movement disorders) or disabilities should • Youth with diseases or disabilities should have their activity
enjoyable. Examples of aerobic activities have their activity program tailored to their program tailored to their specific needs.
• Nutritional requirements vary during the growing
include cycling or bike riding, walking, specific needs. years and should be adequate for normal growth
running, field-court-rink games (soccer, and maturation and match the energy and nutritional
lacrosse, basketball, volleyball, hockey, requirements associated with physical activity.

field hockey), roller blading, dancing, and


swimming. Note that there is little need for
healthy children and adolescents to monitor
their heart rate during the activity period.

ACSM grants permission to reproduce this brochure if it is reproduced in its entirety without alteration. The text may be reproduced in another publication if it is used in its entirety
without alteration and the following statement is added: Reprinted with permission of the American College of Sports Medicine. Copyright © 2015 American College of Sports Medicine.
This brochure was created and updated by Avery D. Faigenbaum, Ed.D., FACSM and is a product of ACSM’s Consumer Information Committee. Visit ACSM online at www.acsm.org.

View publication stats