2207 HSG Kids and Exercise a teen and two younger boys in shorts and tank tops give high fives on basketball court


Kids and exercise: Model movement that’s fun

  • It’s recommended that kids and teens get 60 minutes per day of physical activity.
  • During the pandemic, the activity minutes for kids were cut in half, with 7 to 9 hours of screen time per day devoted to schoolwork.
  • Start slowly and simply: Turn off screens. Get out of the house. Move.

Experts say kids up to the age of 18 should get at least an hour of physical activity every day. But a new survey says only 9 percent of teens get the recommended amount of activity. That's down from 16 percent before the pandemic. Erin Vesey, a physical therapist at Allina Health Courage Kenny Kids, gives you some tips on how you can get the kids in your life moving again.

The challenge is to get kids moving again

It can be a challenge to reestablish patterns of activity and behaviors, especially after the emotional, social and psychological challenges kids have faced during the pandemic. When schools closed, there was a lack of structure and kids may have increased sedentary activities and screen time. The fact that prom, sports activities, choir concerns and in-person hanging out all was stopped, created mental health concerns for teens. The goal now is to start to reintegrate into these activities, which can be overwhelming at first.

To start, aim simply for movement and activity. It can be challenging to find ways to get your body moving and start exercising. It does not need to be intense exercise. It can be as simple as going for a walk, jumping on your bike or pulling up an exercise video. Start simple and slowly increase your time or intensity level over time.

Get started, get moving again

  • Aim for 2 hours or less of non-school screen time a day and find simple ways for kids to move. An exception can be made for exercise videos on YouTube or other mobile apps that promote movement and activity.
  • Go to the library, start a community education class or go for a walk.
  • Go outdoors and play with friends.
  • Plan for the weekend. Have your kids make a list of physical activities they’d like to do. Their list can include anything that gets their body moving such as helping with yard work, soccer practice or walking the dog. For more ideas, read this list of 71 activities to do with kids this summer.

Modeling exercise: Walk the talk

  • One of the best ways to get kids moving is to make sure you, as the adult who cares about them, move as well. Start a routine by going on a family walk or bike ride before or after dinner. Whatever you decide to do, make it fun for everyone and not a chore to check off your “to do” list.
  • Sometimes peer pressure might be a good thing. Especially if your kids have friends who are active. A friend may be better at coaxing a teen away from a screen to join them on a walk, to go bowling, to spend a day at the beach, or to take a bike ride. Movement is always better when you have fun doing it with friends.

For more ideas on building exercise into a kids’ routine check out ideas from Change to Chill and Health Powered Kids lesson plans.



Share this article


How to fit your child's bike helmet in eight easy steps

Continue reading


Get fun, inspiring, provider-reviewed articles sent to your inbox.

Sign up for our email newsletter