Encourage Your Child to Put Down the Cell Phone and Go Outside

Young Soccer Players

Increasing Activity Levels of Children for Weight Control

Little Johnnie or teenage Mary really want to sit with their laptops in their laps, thumb text messages for hours on the cell phone, or play electronic games for more hours. The problem is that these activities are not exercise. Couple a sedentary lifestyle with wrong food choices and you end up with this kind of statistic: up to 20% of children between the ages of six years old and nineteen years old are obese.1  This is determined using a measurement called Body Mass Index (BMI) which compares weight to height.

Obviously, this is not a healthy trend for the future of America.  These adolescents and children face likely futures of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and hypertension unless steps are taken now to help them get rid of the excess weight and return to more normal weight levels for their ages and genders.

Lack of Vigorous Physical Activity a Main Cause of Excess Weight

One way that you can help your children to lose excess weight and return to a healthy weight level is to increase their activity level.  In this day and age, too many children are inside playing video game systems, surfing the internet on their computers, texting their friends on cellular phones, or watching various shows on television.  The youth of today don’t get nearly the same level of physical activity as earlier generations did because there are many more indoor distractions that get their attention.

When is the last time you saw a group of children at the park playing an impromptu game of baseball, soccer or touch football?

You don’t need a degree in physiology to figure out that the main contributor to obesity for adolescents is a lack of vigorous physical activity.  Studies have consistently shown that children in the normal-weight group get more physical vigorous activity on a regular basis than those who are at-risk of being overweight or obese.  Children who are overweight watch more television and play more sedentary games than those who are at a normal weight.

How Much and What Types of Physical Activity Should Your Child Be Getting?

It is recommended that your child be receiving at least 60 minutes, 1 hour, of physical activity each day.2  Aerobic activity should be making up a great deal of that 60 minutes of physical activity.  Such activities that can fill this recommendation include brisk walking or running.  These activities should be done most days of the week.

Another vital component to your child building a strong and healthy body is muscle strengthening.  Such activities that fill this recommendation are push-ups and gymnastics.  Again, you should have your child perform these activities at least 3 times a week.

It’s important to make sure that your child is doing the proper “age-appropriate” activities to.  For instance, it is not recommended that your 5-year-old child start lifting weights as a vigorous, physical activity he or she needs to promote a healthy body.  Running around the playground playing tag or jumping rope with friends is certainly enough for your 5-year-old child to gain the exercise he or she needs for a healthy body. Remember, children’s bodies are still growing. Their bones are developing and the strain of attempting to lift weights could have a negative health impact.

Certainly, those activities can work for teenagers as well, but most teenagers aren’t playing tag or jumping rope; instead, many of them are involved in extracurricular activities such as cheerleading and sports (baseball and basketball and football and soccer and hockey and track, and so on) practice.  Many of these activities not only incorporate the running that younger children get from playing tag, but many of these activities also include weight-lifting elements that enable your teenagers to develop additional muscle on their bodies.

This is important because, it has been shown that the more lean muscle a person has, the more fat that he or she burns, even when he or she is not exercising.  Therefore, if your teenager gains more lean muscle mass, this will enable him or her to be able to burn more fat even when he or she is not engaging in vigorous physical activity.

Getting Your Children to Exercise Regularly Is Key to Weight Loss

Getting enough vigorous physical activity is key to your children losing excess weight and keeping it off.  This helps their metabolism to burn excess fat and build lean muscle mass that can help them to burn fat even when they are not exercising.  By having your children increase their physical activity, they will be building the foundation for a stronger, healthier body and the prelude to a future of good health.

By the way, if you play games outside with your children, like catch or badminton, you get exercise too. Exercise is not just for kids, and it can be turned into family time too!


1 Roizen M.D., Michael F and Mehmet C. Oz, M.D. (2009). You On a Diet.New York: Free Press of Simon & Schuster, Inc., p. 497.

2Physical Activity for Everyone: Guidelines: Children | DNPAO | CDC. (2011, March 30). From Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/everyone/guidelines/children.html

3 Physical Activity for Everyone: Making Physical Activity a Part of an Child’s Life | DNPAO | CD. (2011, February 16). From Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/everyone/getactive/children.html


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