Setting the Stage for a Healthy Lifestyle

Kids and teens are sitting around a lot more than they used to, spending nearly seven hours a day looking at screens and consuming five times more sugar than the daily recommendation. Too much screen time, poor diet, and not enough physical activity are factors that lead to childhood obesity and unhealthy lifestyle habits that last through adulthood.

Children’s Minnesota is partnering with CycleHealth, an initiative of the YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities, to offer a kid-powered wellness platform that inspires kids to take ownership of their well-being and to create a new cycle of health. CycleHealth offers kid-friendly and fun-filled fitness challenges, motivational programs, and adventure races that keep kids active year-round.

Raising fit kids

Combining regular physical activity with a healthy diet is key to raising fit kids and inspiring them to lead a healthy lifestyle. Here are some tips for raising fit kids:

  • Help your kids do a variety of age-appropriate activities.
  • Set a regular schedule for physical activity.
  • Make being active a part of daily life, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Set limits on screen time, including TV, social media and video games.
  • Embrace a healthier lifestyle yourself, so you’ll be a positive role model for your family.
  • Be active together as a family.
  • Keep it fun so your kids will come back for more.

The many benefits of exercise

Kids can benefit from regular exercise in a variety of ways. Organized team sports and activities offer benefits such as social skills development, motor skills development, improved academic outcomes, increased confidence and more. Exercise doesn’t need to involve participation in an organized sport.  Kids exercise when they have gym class at school, during recess, at dance class or soccer practice, while riding bikes, or when playing tag. As kids try a variety of exercises, they learn which activities are most fun and interesting to them, which will help influence healthy lifestyle choices throughout their life.

Active kids will have:

  • Stronger muscles and bones
  • Leaner bodies
  • Less risk of becoming overweight
  • A lower chance of getting type 2 diabetes
  • Lower  blood cholesterol levels

Besides enjoying the health benefits of regular exercise, fit kids sleep better and they are better able to handle physical and emotional challenges.

How much exercise is enough?

  • Kids and teens should get 60 minutes or more of moderate to vigorous physical activity daily.
  • Toddlers and preschool children should play actively several times a day.
  • Young children should not be inactive for long periods of time—no more than 1 hour unless they’re sleeping or eating. And school-age children should not be inactive for periods longer than 2 hour