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Morning exercise for kids is one of the most important healthy habits you can teach your kids. If you don’t start encouraging your kids to exercise at a young age, it can be difficult to get them motivated to or interested in exercise.
As parents, we want our children to be as healthy as possible to prevent sickness and encourage a healthy and happy quality of life.
Before I started encouraging my kids to begin their day with a morning exercise routine, our house was a dreadful place before school time.
I would have to practically push them out of bed, stand over them while they brushed their teeth, and then force them into the car.
They always seemed unmotivated and agitated when they would wake up.
Now that they have an established routine that includes some fitness to get their blood pumping, they are more energetic and eager to start their day.
In this post we’ll cover the consequences of too much inactivity for kids, how much exercise a kid actually needs a day, and the 5 biggest benefits my kids have reaped from morning exercise.
Let’s get started!
Why is Exercise Important for Kids?
Exercise and physical fitness play a large role in children’s health, as it does for adults. There are numerous studies that prove the health risks for those living a sedentary lifestyle.
Two of the biggest challenges we face as parents, when trying to keep our children active, are too much screen time and hours spent sitting at school.
With the increasing amount of time children spend on digital devices, it’s no wonder the obesity rate is on the rise in the U.S.
School systems have made big shifts in the food offerings they provide to students, making it easier to make healthier choices. However, is that really enough to offset the effects of such long sitting times?
According to an article from Medical News Today and another from MedlinePlus, there are some serious health dangers associated with too much inactivity and living a sedentary lifestyle. These include increased risk of:
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Cardiovascular Disease
- Premature Death
- Certain Types of Cancer
- Anxiety & Depression
Some other common issues associated with sitting too long are:
- Leg Pain
- Trouble Sleeping
- Behavior Problems
- Educational Problems
How Much Exercise Does a Kid Need a Day?
As you have seen from the 2 lists above, it’s important for children to get an adequate amount of exercise daily in order to prevent these health issues and encourage a healthy lifestyle.
Then the question is, how much physical activity does a child need daily?
The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services has published a great resource that covers this information, The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.
If you have time to read through it, it’s very informative. However, it is 118 pages of content. So, I’ll summarize what they call the “Key Guidelines” for kids here.
Key Guidelines for Youth Physical Activity
…according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.
- Kids ages 6 through 17 years old should get at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity daily.
- Aerobic, bone-strengthening and muscle-strengthening activities should each be incorporated into this 60 minutes of exercise at least 3 days a week.
- It’s important to encourage children and adolescents to take part in physical activity that is enjoyable and offers variety.
- The majority of the time children spend in physical activity should be aerobic.
Just because 60 minutes a day is recommended, doesn’t mean it is necessary to get it all in during the morning hours. A quick 5-10 minute workout that gets the heart rate up is enough to reap the benefits.
5 Benefits of Morning Exercise for Kids
There is no doubt that keeping our kids active plays a significant part in keeping them healthy and preventing illnesses. But there are also some added benefits for kids who workout in the morning hours.
These are some of the benefits you will notice once your kids have established a morning exercise routine.
You might be wondering how exercise can boost energy when you’re using energy to workout. We don’t want our kids to be tired at school from an early morning workout, after all.
Here’s the thing, exercising is heart healthy. It gets the blood pumping and increases the flow of oxygen to the brain and throughout the body which encourages energy production.
Exercise also increases your muscle strength which, in turn, increases your endurance, making it easier to workout longer each time and have sustained energy throughout the day.
More Focus at School
Increased blood flow and oxygen to the brain also make you feel more alert and focused. With all of the sitting our children do at school, it’s easy for them to become easily bored and feel sluggish.
By spending a few minutes in the morning getting their heart rate up, kids can improve their ability to concentrate and comprehend the lessons throughout the day.
Metabolism refers to the process our body uses when converting the food we consume into energy. Exercise has been proven to increase metabolism and boost the amount of calories burned, even when your body is resting.
The effects exercise has on your metabolism last longer than the time spent exercising. In other words, vigorous exercise can keep your metabolism functioning at a high rate for hours after you have stopped moving.
For kids who wake up and work out, this means they will be burning more calories while sitting at their desks.
Boost In Mood
When you exercise, your brain releases the following 4 chemicals: endorphins, adrenaline, serotonin and dopamine.
Endorphins are sometimes referred to as the “feel-good” chemicals of the brain. This is because your brain releases them to protect you from feeling pain when it thinks you’re body is under stress (e.g., when you exercise).
So if you’re wondering does physical activity improve behavior, it very well can.
When kids spend time getting their adrenaline pumping in the morning, their brains will release more endorphins and create that “feel-good” feeling throughout the day.
That boost in mood is just one of the benefits of exercise for children’s social development. And the more often they exercise, the more long-term benefits they will see.
Wouldn’t you like your kids to hit the hay a little earlier? Well, I can’t promise that, but research has proven that exercise does improve quality of sleep.
Researchers are not quite sure how the process works, but they do know that moderate aerobic exercise increases the amount of deep sleep you get. This is the sleep stage where your body and brain get a power up.
This means that your kids wake up feeling rejuvenated and ready to take on the day.
A Final Note About Morning Exercise for Kids
Motivating your kids to exercise can be tough, especially in the early morning hours. But creating a before school workout routine has benefits that far outweigh the headache.
And once they have learned how to incorporate a 5 or 10 minute workout into their morning routine, you won’t have to push them so hard. It will eventually become a habit – a good habit.
Bottom line – if you want your kids to have increased energy, more focus at school, a metabolism that continues to burn while they’re just sitting, better sleep and a better attitude, you should encourage your kids to get up and get moving in the mornings.
In the meantime, check out this list of fun exercises for kids. Any of these exercise ideas would be a great way to get some exercise in after school.