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How much activity do I need every day?
How can I fit in a whole hour of activity when my days are packed already?
What if I don't like sports and exercising on my own is too hard?
What if I'm too tired and I don't have time?
Kids between 9 and 13 years old should try to be active for about an hour a day, 5 or more days a week. And by active, we mean that you should feel like you’re really doing something—you should be slightly out of breath while you're doing it.
Sounds like a lot, right? Don't stress—every little bit counts, and you don't have to do it all once. Walking to and from school, riding your bike to a friend’s house, or playing catch with your younger brother are all ways to get some activity into your day. Of course, playing sports like basketball and soccer is great, but so is marching band practice, ballet, or even mowing the lawn! Anything that gets you moving fills the bill.
And if you’re not used to being active, it's OK if you don't run a marathon right away. Find some things you like to do, and then take it slow and work your way up to avoid injuries. Need ideas? Check out the activity cards for new ways to get moving every day.
Being physically active has amazing benefits—it’s like money in the bank, because the more energy you spend, the more energy you have. In fact, if you feel really tired and you think you need a nap, a little exercise instead can often help wake you up and give you the energy you need. Still not convinced? Here are four more reasons why exercise is worth the time.
- Physical activity helps you cope with stress. Too much stress can wear you out, making you feel tired and unable to focus at school. Whether you're nervous about an exam or bummed out about an argument with a friend, a little exercise can help. It will calm your nerves and clear your head so that you can better face stressful situations and focus at school.
- Physical activity helps you sleep better. Research shows that getting some exercise 3 hours before bed can help you get to sleep and stay there.
- Physical activity helps you build strong bones, muscles, and joints so that you'll be better able to do fun things like play sports or go for a hike.
- Physical activity can help you maintain a healthy body weight or avoid weight gain. This is also important for your overall health, since being overweight can lead to diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure—even in kids!
Not everyone is into team sports—and that’s totally OK. It’s all about being creative with what you do. Like, you could take a walk while you catch up with a pal, instead of chatting on the phone. Or, crank up some tunes after school and dance around the room. Even chores like house or yard work can count as part of your daily activity if you put some energy into them. The most important thing is that you pick activities you like so you can stick with them. Click here for ideas on other ways to be physically active that you might never have thought of.
When you're running low on energy and time, squeezing in some physical activity may seem like the LAST thing you want to do. The truth is, physical activity is probably just what you need to give you energy and clear your head so you can focus on all the things you have to do.
One way to make sure you fit it in every day is to put it on your schedule, just like you do with other things you want to fit in every day (funny how you can always squeeze in another round of IM-ing with your friends, isn’t it?). Take a look at your schedule each day, and figure out where you might have 10 or 20 minutes to fit in some physical activity.
- Division of Population Health/School Health Branch
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
4770 Buford Highway, Northeast, Mailstop K-27
Atlanta, GA 30341
TTY: (888) 232-6348
- Contact CDC-INFO