A national obesity panel reviewed over 850 studies to determine how much exercise your kids really need to be healthy.

June 29, 2005 — It seems like there are so many conflicting reports telling parents how much exercise their children should get. So the government's decided to end confusion on the matter and declare once and for all: Children should get an hour of exercise over the course of each day.

That's the word from a panel of national obesity experts, who made the recommendation earlier this month. The panel, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), was created to cut through conflicting advice on children's exercise.

Twenty-seven different groups have their own recommendations. The CDC hopes the different organizations will adopt the panel's advice so parents will get a unified message from the health community.

The panel reviewed more than 850 existing studies on child physical activity and found that most recommended 30 to 45 minutes of continuous activity. But the panel decided that 60 minutes was more appropriate because kids typically exercise in "fits and spurts" rather than in a continuous manner.

Sixteen percent of the children in this country are obese. That number has increased by at least two times over the last 20 years. Overweight children and teens are at greater risk for developing type 2 diabetes (though still rare in childhood) and risk factors for heart disease at an earlier age. Eating better diets and being more physically active are important in achieving and maintaining a normal weight and helping reduce chronic diseases.

Children should be given the chance to take part in a variety of physical activity, from walking to jumping rope to competitive sports. In short, it has to be fun!

Other suggestions made by the Surgeon General on how to control weight:

  • Reduce time spent watching television and in other similar sedentary behaviors.
  • Build physical activity into regular routines and playtime for children and their families.
  • Promote healthier food choices, including at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day, and reasonable portion sizes at home, in schools, at worksites, and in communities.
  • Ensure daily, quality physical education in all school grades.

Additional resources from Parents.com:

Healthy Kids

Get Moving

Parents Magazine